FORT MYERS, FLA. - The No. 1 FGCU Eagles used solid pitching outings from Taylor Wade, Gabbee Draney and Riley Randolph and late timely hitting to oust the No. 4 Kennesaw State Owls from the 2016 ASUN Softball Championship on Friday by a score of 4-1. The Green and Blue advance to face No. 2 USC Upstate on Saturday in the championship final.
The hosts got out to the early lead in the top of the first using small ball techniques as Kelsey Huff led things off with a single and a stolen base, advancing to third on a Makensie McAvoy sacrifice bunt. Louie Ross then reached on a fielder's choice, earning an RBI as Huff came in to score on the close play at the plate.
The score would remain 1-0 FGCU before Kennesaw State would answer back in the third as Noelle Winkles reached on a throwing error, before stealing second and advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt from Kara Chambers. Taylor Denton would then single up the middle for the Owls, scoring Winkles and knotting the game at one-run apiece.
The fourth frame featured one, two, three innings from both squads as both Wade and Viers soared through their pitches in the circle. KSU would make a serious threat in the fifth however, using singles from Winkles and Chambers to own runners on second and third with just one out. Gabbee Draney would then enter for the Eagles inducing a ground out and pop up to stifle the Owl run.
FGCU took advantage, pushing themselves in front in the bottom of the fifth after a McAvoy double down the right field line to score Kelsey Huff after the sophomore reached on a throwing error to make it a 2-1 Eagle lead. Freshman and Pitcher of the Year Riley Randolph came in in relief starting the sixth, throwing a shutout inning before FGCU rallied for two more runs in the bottom of the period. Michaela Hynes doubled to right center, scoring both Emily Demurias and Jeanie Verderese and tripling the Eagle advantage to three runs.
Randolph would once again appear in the seventh, earning two pop outs and a strikeout to earn the save and advance FGCU to the ASUN Softball Championship Final. The Eagles will face the USC Upstate Spartans at 1:00 p.m. on ESPN3 Saturday, May 14.
FGCU vs. Kennesaw State Softball Championship Game Notes
- FGCU finishes the year with a 4-1 record vs. the Owls of Kennesaw State. The Eagles outscored KSU by a total of 21-5 in five contests.
- With 32 wins on the year the Eagles are one victory shy of tying the 33-win total of 2014, the last time FGCU advanced to the ASUN Championship.
- Randolph now owns four saves on the season in addition to her 16 wins, all within the past two weeks. That ranks second in the ASUN on the season behind Sikes' five.
- Kennesaw State ends its season with a record of 30-28, earning three wins in the ASUN Softball Championship for the first time since 2012.