North Texas Daily

Softball takes two from FAU to win second C-USA series in a row

Softball takes two from FAU to win second C-USA series in a row

Softball takes two from FAU to win second C-USA series in a row
March 21
16:16 2022

After dropping Friday’s home conference opener, softball bounced back with consecutive wins to take its second Conference USA series of the season.

Facing Florida Atlantic University (15-15, 4-2 C-USA) over the weekend, North Texas’ (16-6, 5-1 C-USA) lineup was held without a run in the series opener. The Mean Green have been shutout four times this season but have scored six or more runs in the following game each time.

Junior left-handed pitcher Ashley Peters started two games in the series, pitching 12.1 innings, allowing two earned runs, striking out 14 and walking no batters. Peters picked up her third loss of the season and team-leading ninth win during the series.

“I had a lot of confidence out there and I knew my team was going to come out to score runs for me,” Peters said. “We were super gritty as a team.”

Game 1: Florida Atlantic 1, North Texas 0

Peters started the first game of the series, striking out six and allowing one run on two hits through all seven innings. The Owls started senior lefty Lynn Gardner who threw a complete game shutout with two hits, four strikeouts and three walks. The win was Gardner’s eighth of the season. 

Neither team recorded a hit until the top of the fifth inning when Florida Atlantic sophomore infielder Zoey Jones led off with a double off the centerfield wall. Jones advanced to third on a bunt attempt and was brought in on a sacrifice fly to left by sophomore infielder Riley Olson.

After allowing a run in the fifth, Peters set down the Owls in order the next two innings. Gardner returned to the circle in the bottom of the seventh, giving up a leadoff single to sophomore catcher Ashlyn Walker. A bunt by sophomore second baseman Mikayla Smith got the potential tying run in scoring position.

Then a pop up ruled an infield fly off the bat of freshman outfielder Sydney Ingle resulted in a double play to end the contest as Walker had begun running following the drop. Following the contest, head coach Rodney DeLong said he was disappointed in his team’s effort at the plate. 

“[It] was a bad loss, we weren’t patient at the plate and that came back to haunt us,” DeLong said. “Just disappointed at our approach at the plate more than anything.”

Game 2: North Texas 6, Florida Atlantic 3

The Mean Green sent out freshman right-handed pitcher Skylar Savage for the second game of the series. The 6-foot-2 righty pitched a complete game, giving up three runs on five hits as she struck out seven batters and walked one. Freshman right-hander Gabby Sacco started for Florida Atlantic, pitching three innings, giving up six runs on seven hits, striking out one and walking two.

The Owls jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first, scoring on a Jones sacrifice fly and passed ball. The Mean Green responded in the bottom half of the first with a leadoff single by freshman shortstop Cierra Simon and sophomore outfielder Kalei Christensen’s seventh home run of the season. An RBI double by sophomore first baseman Kailey Gamble and RBI single by Smith gave North Texas a 4-2 lead after one inning. 

Sophomore outfielder Kaitlyn Cunnigham added another run for Florida Atlantic with an RBI double. The bottom of the third inning saw a redshirt sophomore outfielder Molly Rainey single, followed by Smith’s  first home run of the season to extend the Mean Green lead to 6-3. Sacco’s day ended in the fourth inning as junior right-hander Donnie Gobourne relieved her.

That would be all the scoring as a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the seventh by Savage closed out her fifth win of the season.

Game 3: North Texas 7, Florida Atlantic 3

In a rematch of Friday’s game, Peters and Gardner started in the circle once again. Peters pitched 5.1 innings, surrendering one earned run on six hits and striking out eight. Gardner pitched five innings, giving up five earned runs on nine hits, striking out three and walking one.

After a scoreless top half of the first, Christensen gave North Texas the lead with a solo home run in the bottom of the first. An RBI double gave the Mean Green a 2-0 lead through the first frame. 

Gardner and Peters kept both offenses off the board until North Texas loaded the bases in the bottom of the fifth. Gamble broke open the game with a grand slam, followed by a Rainey double and Smith RBI single to give the Mean Green a 7-0 advantage.

Peters’ day ended with one out in the sixth following three hits and an error at short that brought in two Owls to score. Savage checked in to retire the next two runners before North Texas went scoreless in the bottom of the sixth.

Savage allowed one run in the seventh on a Cunningham RBI double before ending the game with a 4-3 groundout to complete the series win. 

“We fought hard, played with everything we had,” Gamble said. “We wanted to win this conference series, so [we] did everything we could. 

The Mean Green travel southeast to Nacogdoches to play Stephen F. Austin State University on Tuesday night before taking their second conference trip of the year to play the University of North Carolina–Charlotte. Charlotte was ranked No. 1 in the C-USA preseason poll with North Texas placed No. 2.

“Next weekend is going to be huge for us,” Evans said. “Them being picked over us really gets us going.”

Featured Image: Sophomore catcher Ashlyn Walker squats while junior pitcher Ashley Peters warms up in the bullpen on March 9, 2022. Photo by Kristian Freeman

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Reed Smith

Reed Smith

Senior Sports Writer.

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