Junior Meredith Owen pitched a three-hitter en route to her 20th win of the season as visiting Stetson defeated Jacksonville 3-1 in a key Atlantic Sun Conference game Wednesday evening at the JU Softball Complex.
The Hatters (29-18, 12-11 A-Sun) took advantage of three Jacksonville errors to complete a season-sweep of the Dolphins and move into sole possession of sixth place in the league standings.
"Once again, Meredith did an outstanding job," Stetson head coach Frank Griffin said. "Our defense played well and their defense broke down a couple times and it cost them some runs."
Owen ran her personal win streak to eight, retiring 14 Dolphin batters in a row at one point. She struck out three and did not walk a batter, extending her streak to 46 straight innings without allowing a free pass.
"I have spent many hours in the bullpen working on control because I have never had the speed to blow it by people," Owen said.
After posting seven wins her freshman year and 15 victories her sophomore year, Owen became the Hatters' first 20-game winner since Amanda Lindsey in 2010.
"It means a whole lot, I am pretty sure that it's more wins than we had as a team my whole freshman year," Owen said about the 20-win milestone. "I just have to give credit to my team, they have supported me so much throughout this year. They are helping me get those wins, I can't do it by myself."
The Hatters took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning when Dolphin third baseman Ashley Simon overthrew second base while trying to complete a force play. The errant throw rolled all the way to outfield fence, allowing Demi Meza to sprint home with the game's first run.
"I slid into second and saw the ball go into the outfield, I was immediately thinking, 'Go home'," Meza said. "As I was heading to third I saw coach Griffin signaling me to go, and I knew I had to make it."
Stetson added two runs in the fourth on another Dolphin throwing error and an RBI ground out by Jessica Griffin.
Jacksonville's lone threat came in the sixth inning when the Dolphins plated one run on an RBI single by Sarah Simon. With the potential go-ahead run at the plate, Owen worked out of the jam, and retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the win.
"I was nervous because I didn't have my stuff today, but Jessica Griffin did a fantastic job behind the plate," Owen said. "She figured out a way to get (the Jacksonville hitters) out just by her pitch-calling. I don't know how I would have done it without her."
Jessica Griffin gave the credit right back to Owen.
"Once again she was just so consistent," the Hatter catcher said. "It's easy to call pitches when you know what's coming your way."
Brittany Hawn had two hits to lead the Hatters, who left 11 runners on base for the game.
"We scored enough to win, but I thought we left too many baserunners on," Frank Griffin said. "I was really disappointed in that. I know the first two innings we left five on and didn't score, and we left more on base after that."
Stetson will travel to Nashville, Tenn. this weekend for a three-game series against Lipscomb. The Hatters can wrap up a spot in the A-Sun tournament with three wins in their final four games.
Notes: Stetson's magic number (combination of Stetson wins and opponent losses) to clinch a spot higher than Mercer is two and to clinch a spot a higher than Jacksonville is three ... When the Hatters last traveled to Jacksonville on April 10, Stetson was seven games behind Jacksonville in the standings ... The Hatters have gone 9-2 since including wins in five straight games ... Stetson improved to 23-4 when scoring first ... The win was the 797th career victory for Frank Griffin ... The team had to wait for a new charter bus to take them home after their bus driver sustained an injury and had to go to be taken to the hospital.