Spartanburg, S.C. - The Stetson softball team (26-20) became the first #6 seed in the A-Sun tournament since 1998 to win its first two games, defeating second-seeded Kennesaw State (30-23) 7-2 Thursday morning at USC Upstate's Cyrill Stadium. Freshman designated player Courtney Brandt (Dade City, Fla.) went two for four with three RBI and freshman third baseman Demi Meza (Oxnard, Calif.) homered for the second straight game to lead the Hatters.
Meza led off the top of the second inning with a solo home run over the center field wall against Owls starter Abbey Mixon to stake Stetson to a 1-0 lead, just as she did in yesterday's 1-0 win over USC Upstate.
Kennesaw State struck right back in the bottom of the third as A-Sun Player of the Year third baseman Jessica Cross and right fielder Bianca Durant both smacked solo home runs, putting the Owls ahead 2-1 and Stetson behind for the first time in the tournament.
The Hatters seized control for good with a four-run fourth inning based on small ball. Following a one-out single by junior catcher Jordan Cleghorn (Ball Ground, Ga.), senior first baseman Carolyn Boyd (Germantown, Tenn.) laid down a sacrifice bunt that Mixon threw away for an error. Junior right fielder Chelsea Whalley (Calgary, Alta.) then walked to load the bases and prompt a pitching change.
Senior left fielder Brittany Knipp (Land O'Lakes, Fla.) greeted KSU reliever Amanda Henderson with a perfectly placed RBI bunt single to tie the game and sophomore center fielder Chrissy Morello (Ormond Beach, Fla.) followed with a go-ahead RBI sacrifice fly an a 3-2 Stetson lead. Not done yet, sophomore pitcher Meredith Owen (Jackson, Miss.) and Brandt delivered back-to-back RBI singles to extend the advantage to 5-2.
Brandt drove a two-run double, her seventh of the year, back up the middle in the top of the sixth for a pair of insurance runs, but Owen closed down the A-Sun regular season co-champion Owls with no more damage the rest of the way. She scattered two runs on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts to earn her 15th win of the season.
Meza's home run was her fourth of the season and doubled the total she had coming into the A-Sun tournament; she also stole her eighth base of the season while Morello also had a stolen base, her team-leading 21st.
Cross and Durant each went two for four with their solo home runs to lead the Owls. Mixon took the loss. Stetson will advance to Friday's winner's bracket final at 12:30 pm against either FGCU or Jacksonville; Live Stats will be available at GoHatters.com with free video on ASun.TV.
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