May 22, 2010

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The FIU softball team picked up its first NCAA Tournament victory in school history on Saturday afternoon at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., as the Golden Panthers defeated Bethune-Cookman, 2-0, in 10 innings.

With the win, FIU improves to 37-20 on the year while Bethune-Cookman ends its season with a record of 32-24.

The first inning saw both teams go three-up, three-down and FIU had another quick inning in the top of the second. Bethune-Cookman led off the bottom of the second with a single to left centerfield and a one-out single up the left side put two on for the Wildcats, but senior Kasey Barrett recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning.

Sophomore Kelsey Grabiak drew a one-out walk in the top of the third for FIU but two straight outs by Bethune-Cookman sent the Golden Panthers back onto the diamond for the bottom of the inning. The Wildcats would then tally a three-up, three-down outing for bring out the FIU bats.

Freshman Brie Rojas connected for FIU's first hit of the game in the top of the fourth with a two-out single and she advanced to second on a Wildcat throwing error. Sophomore Jenny Welch then drew a walk to put two on for the Golden Panthers but a line-out to left field brought the inning to the close.

Barrett recorded her fourth strikeout of the game to put two outs on the board in the bottom of the fourth, but the Wildcats singled to left centerfield to put one on. Freshman Beth Peller would then make a spectacular catch in left centerfield to send Bethune-Cookman back onto the field for the top of the fifth, but the Wildcat defense tallied two put-outs and a strikeout to quickly bring up the bottom of the inning.

Both teams then tallied a three-up, three-down half-inning to bring up the bottom of the sixth, where Bethune-Cookman led off with a pair of singles. However, the Golden Panther defense came through with three consecutive outs to get out of the jam and end the inning.

The top of the seventh saw FIU go three-up, three-down before the Wildcats drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the inning to put a runner on. A line-out double play would then end the inning to force extras, as a line drive tipped by Barrett and caught by Rojas was turned into a pair of outs with a put-out at first by senior Lauren Spiers.

In the top of the eighth, redshirt sophomore pinch hitter Jackie Tetlow tallied FIU's second hit of the day with a double to right field with two outs on the board and a Wildcat error allowed freshman Jessy Alfonso to reach first and put runners on the corners for the Golden Panthers. Alfonso stole second, but an FIU strikeout left the pair stranded to end the inning.

Bethune-Cookman notched a two-out hit to left centerfield in the bottom of the eighth, but a fly-out to right field brought out the FIU bats for the top of the ninth.

Sophomore Ashley McClain then led off for the Golden Panthers with a single to right field before Rojas reached first on an error, but McClain was thrown out at home to put one out on the board. A single by Welch put two on for FIU and another Wildcat error loaded the bases, but a ground-out left the runners stranded.

The bottom of ninth saw Bethune-Cookman puts its lead-off batter on base with a walk and a fielder's choice kept one runner on at first base to put one out on the board. An FIU error put a pair of runners on for the Wildcats and a two-out single loaded the bases, but a fly-out to centerfield ended the inning.

Junior Seldi Soberon led off the bottom of the 10th for FIU with a single and a sac bunt by Alfonso advanced her to second before a double by Peller drove in Soberon to put FIU on the scoreboard with a 1-0 lead. A double by McClain would then score Peller as the Golden Panthers increased their advantage to 2-0 before a pair of outs by Bethune-Cookman brought up the bottom of the 10th.

The Wildcats then recorded a one-out single but two straight outs by the Golden Panthers ended the game as FIU came away with its first ever NCAA Tournament victory with a 2-0, 10-inning win.

McClain led the FIU offense with a 2-for-5 performance at the plate which included her 16th double of the season, a total which ties for first on the FIU single-season charts. McClain recorded one RBI to put her season total at 56, which is a single-season school record.

In the circle, Barrett pitched her 19th complete game of the season, a mark which ranks fifth all-time at FIU. Barrett struck out six batters while giving up eight hits and zero earned runs, as she picked up her eighth shutout of the campaign and 15th for her career. The eight shutouts in 2010 rank first all-time at FIU for a single season while her 15 career shutouts rank second in the FIU record books.

Barrett improved to 19-12 on the year with the win and now owns a single-season school-record 238 strikeouts and an FIU all-time second-best 593 K's for her career.