DeLand, Fla. - A recent outbreak of late-inning magic struck twice more for the Stetson softball team (30-19, 12-6 Atlantic Sun) on Saturday in a 7-3, 2-1 sweep of visiting Kennesaw State (24-22, 9-7 A-Sun) at Patricia Wilson Field. Senior pitcher Amanda Lindsey (Byhalia, Miss.) hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the eighth in the first game while junior right fielder Rachel Lowe (Okeechobee, Fla.) ended the nightcap with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Stetson has now won six consecutive games overall, eight straight home games and three in a row in its final turn at bat. The victories also moved the Hatters into second place in the A-Sun standings and sewed up their spot in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships, set for May 13-15 at Patricia Wilson Field.
The Hatters trailed 3-2 in the first game with two out in the bottom of the seventh and freshman left fielder Chelsea Whalley (Calgary, Alta.) on second base. A passed ball sent Whalley to third and sophomore shortstop Chelsey Trotto (Lantana, Fla.) immediately plated her with a single to right field that tied the game.
After the Owls failed to score in their half of the eighth, the Hatters went to work on the winning rally. An error, base hit, sacrifice bunt and intentional walk loaded the bases with one out for Lindsey; she smashed a 2-0 pitch from KSU's Jessica Cross out of the park to center field for a game-ending grand slam.
Lindsey went the distance, striking out 10 batters and letting in just three runs, all unearned on four hits and three walks. Senior catcher Jessica Lokeinsky (Cooper City, Fla.) went three for four with a double while Lowe had a double and an RBI groundout. First baseman Ashlee Burkett led the Owls with two hits, an RBI and a run scored; Cross took the loss in a complete-game effort. Kennesaw State could not take advantage of some shaky defense; the Hatters committed five errors in the ballgame.
Stetson continued to struggle in the field early in the second game, committing four more errors in the first three innings; although the Hatters would again end the game with five miscues on the scoreboard, they still ended up on the winning end of a nail-biter.
Hannah Graham's RBI single in the top of the second gave the Owls a 1-0 lead that pitcher Abbey Meixel protected until the bottom of the sixth, when senior pitcher Nicole Peltz (Navarre, Fla.) helped her own cause with a one-out bases loaded grounder to the left side of the infield. KSU shortstop Klair Wells made a great diving play to keep the ball on the dirt and force a runner out at third, but junior third baseman Jill Semento (Umatilla, Fla.) was still able to score the tying run.
Neither team was able to break through for another run in regulation or the first two extra innings. When the game moved to international tie-break format in the top of the 10th, Lindsey (who relieved Peltz to start the eighth) stranded a runner on third to give the Hatters their chance to start the bottom of the 10th with a runner on second base.
Although the initial ITB runner was put out, an intentional walk, fielder's choice and base hit left the bases loaded with one out for Lowe. She fell behind Meixel early in the count but would eventually smack a grounder up the middle that Meixel could do no more than deflect with her foot as Lokeinsky scored the game-winning run.
Junior first baseman Katelyn Perna (St. Petersburg, Fla.) went three for five with a double while sophomore center fielder Brittany Knipp (Land O' Lakes, Fla.) collected two base hits. Semento and Trotto both doubled for the Hatters. Cross and Graham each finished two for four to lead the Kennesaw State lineup.
Lindsey earned her second win of the day with three perfect innings of scoreless relief, fanning five in the process. Peltz recorded seven strikeouts in seven innings to start the game, allowing just one run on eight hits and no walks. Meixel let in two runs, one earned, on nine hits and four walks in nine and a third frames; she struck out seven.
The Hatters will be off for 12 days before concluding the regular season Thursday, May 6 with a 5 p.m. doubleheader against A-Sun rival Jacksonville. Stetson will honor its six upperclassmen (Lindsey, Lokeinsky, Peltz, Amy Joyce, Katie Lawrence and Megan Voeller) in a pre-game ceremony. Live Stats and Hatter Vision are available as always at www.GoHatters.com.