UNCW Falls Twice In Opening Day Of FLI
Courtesy: UNCW Athletic Communications
GAINESVILLE, Florida - The UNCW softball team opened the Florida Lipton Invitational with losses to Western Carolina (4-1) and No. 5 Florida (10-0) Friday at KSP Stadium.
UNCW moved to 3-4 on the season with the setbacks to the Catamounts and nationally-ranked Gators. The Seahawks return to action in the Florida Lipton Invitational Saturday with contests against Charleston Southern (4:30 p.m.) and Savannah State (6:45 p.m.)
Versus Western Carolina, the Catamounts jumped out to a 3-0 in the first inning, taking advantage of a bases-loaded walk and a pair of Seahawks errors to build the early lead.
The two teams would trade runs in the third. Senior Lauryn Buckworth would get the Seahawks on the board with a run-scoring double in the top half of the frame to make it 3-1, only to see the Catamounts regain their three-run edge with a run-scoring single from senior Shemekia Scotton.
That was all the support that sophomore Jordan Garrett would need, allowing just one base runner to reach base over the final four innings to even her season mark at 2-2. Garrett surrendered one run on three hits and two walks in seven innings of work while fanning a season-high 12 batters in the complete-game effort.
Sophomore Heather Chastain went 2-for-3 at the plate while Scotton was 1-for-1 with two walks, a RBI and a run scored to pace the WCU lineup.
Buckworth was 2-for-2 and was responsible for plating UNCW's lone run in the contest. Sophomore Morgan McCann registered the other Seahawk hit, a leadoff double in the third inning.
Sophomore Casey Rowland took the loss for the Seahawks to move to 2-1 on the season. In six innings of work, Rowland allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits and four walks. She struck out five.
"A rough first inning really put us in a hole against Western Carolina," said UNCW Head Coach Kristy Norton. "We left the bases loaded and we never really gained any momentum after that. Casey (Rowland) settled down nicely after that, but our offensive game never really caught on."
In the nightcap, the Gators would open the scoring in the top of the second, using a two-run home run from sophomore Briana Little to take a 2-0 lead.
Florida would break the game open in the third as it used four hits, including a two-run home run from freshman Kristi Merritt, to build a 6-0 cushion. The Gators closed out the scoring in the fourth as it took advantage of a pair of two-run singles to make it 10-0 ballgame and evoke the eight-run rule after five innings.
Sophomores Bailey Castro and Lauren Haeger finished the game with two hits and three RBI apiece to lead a Gators lineup that combined for 10 hits, including four extra-base knocks.
Haeger was credited with the win in the circle, scattering two hits and three walks over five innings as she improved to 3-0 on the season. She finished the game with eight strikeouts.
McCann and junior Camry Wagner were credited with the Seahawks two base hits against the Gators.
"It's a great opportunity to play such a powerhouse program and regardless of the score, our pitchers and hitters all remained composed," said Norton. "We need to regroup though and figure out how to become a stronger offensive team. Tomorrow will be a big day for our team mentally."