Highland Heights, Ky. -- Demi Meza hit her 20th career home run and Meredith Owen tossed a one-hit shutout as Stetson defeated Northern Kentucky 10-0 in five innings to complete a three-game series sweep at Grein Softball Field.
Kayla Drury added a three-run double for the Hatters (28-5, 12-2 Atlantic Sun), who extended their winning streak to 13 games.
“We played great,” junior Amanda Grimaldo said. “We knew coming into the series that we had to keep our composure and just play our game. We needed to stay consistent, and that would get us the wins.”
Stetson was consistent on offense Sunday, scoring runs in all five innings en route to run-rule victory. Meza got the ball rolling with a two-run shot to leftcenter field in the top of the first inning, the first of her three runs scored on the day. Stetson added one in the second, one in the third, five in the fourth, and one in the fifth.
“We played with confidence, we swung the bats with confidence, and we pitched with confidence,” Stetson head coach Frank Griffin said. “It is difficult to go on the road and sweep, and I am proud of my kids.”
Owen allowed just one hit en route to her league-leading 16th victory of the season. Michelle Carson led off the bottom of the third with a single to center, but was quickly erased on a highlight-reel play by the Hatter middle infielders. After Nicolette Hayes grounded to second, Grimaldo barehanded the toss from Meza before firing to first for the double play.
“We actually worked on that in practice this week, just to get more comfortable,” Grimaldo said. “If we have time, in games where we are ahead, we want to just try it. (Saturday), it happened for the first time, and I didn’t even realize I had barehanded it. Then (Sunday), the same thing happened. It felt great.”
“We have pretty good hands on the infield, but we just haven’t been executing the double plays,” assistant coach J.J. Payette said. “The other day we just worked on ‘Snoop’ (Grimaldo) barehanding that ball coming across, and Demi doing the same thing. It gives us a little more time, and they executed it perfectly this weekend. It was exciting to see.”
Drury’s three-run double can in the top of the fourth and gave Stetson a 9-0 lead. The Hatter sophomore is now batting .531 (17-for-32) over her past 10 games, and she raised her season average to .360.
“In the beginning of the year, I was struggling because I was overthinking everything,” Drury said. “I was taking it too seriously, instead of relaxing and having fun at the plate.”
Chrissy Morello and Owen each added RBI doubles, and Brittany Hawn drove in a run with a squeeze bunt.
The Hatters will return home to face UCF (27-12) at 6 p.m. Wednesday night at Patricia Wilson Field.
Notes: Stetson outscored NKU 30-1 in the series ... Stetson's 13-game win streak is the third longest in school history, behind a 28-game streak in 2002 and a 17-game streak in 2003 ... Jessie TenBroeck extended her hitting streak to 15 games ... With USC Upstate's rain out at Mercer, the Hatters moved to within three wins of the Spartans with three games at hand. The teams are tied in the loss column.