Orlando, Fla. – Courtney Brandt hit a late two-run double and Meredith Owen picked up her 20th win of the season as Stetson defeated UCF 3-0 Tuesday night at the UCF Softball Complex.
Brittany Hawn added an RBI single for the Hatters (32-9), who posted their biggest non-conference win of the year.
"I thought Meredith did a fantastic job on the mound, the defense played well, and we put some timely hits together," Stetson head coach Frank Griffin said. "It was a big win for us going into our final six games of conference play, and then the tournament after that. To have the confidence to know that we can beat a program like this is a big positive."
UCF (33-15) entered the week ranked 28th in the NCAA RPI, while the Hatters were ranked 43rd. It was the second meeting of the season between the two teams, and once again the two starting pitchers traded zeroes on the scoreboard through the first five innings.
The Hatters mounted a two-out rally in the sixth, however, as Kayla Drury walked and Jessica Griffin doubled to center, moving Drury to third. After falling behind in the count, Brandt lined a double into rightcenter field to score Drury and Griffin with the first two runs of the game. Hawn followed with an RBI single to center to add an insurance run.
Owen (20-5), who was named the USA Softball National Player of the Week earlier on Tuesday, made the lead hold-up. She allowed just four hits and struck out five en route to her eighth shutout of the year, lowering her NCAA-best ERA to 0.70. She pitched out of trouble in the fourth and fifth innings while the game was still scoreless.
"It's awesome when you can put down any pitch and you know your pitcher is going to throw it," catcher Jessica Griffin said about Owen. "That is the kind of confidence I have in her and it is great."
The Hatters put forth another strong defensive effort. Brandt not only contributed at the plate, but in left field where she made six catches, including reaching high for a ball in the fourth inning that saved two runs.
"Courtney is just amazing. She is such a stud," Hawn said. "She covers so much ground. She did her job out there as well as the rest of the defense. We have such a good chemistry right now and we are rolling."
Griffin doubled twice for Stetson and also had a strong game behind the plate, throwing out a pair of UCF runners attempting to steal.
"It's all about aggression," Griffin said. "You really have to be ready every pitch. I have been practicing my throw downs, and then short and second have worked on covering. It's been paying off."
Linnea Goodman had two of the four hits for UCF, while Mackenzie Audas (15-10) struck out eight.
Stetson will host Jacksonville for a three-game series beginning Saturday at 2 p.m. Senior Day festivities will take place prior to Saturday’s doubleheader. The series finale will be Sunday at 1 p.m.