DELAND, Fla. – Backed by the bat and the arm of senior pitcher Meredith Owen, the Stetson University softball team handed USC Upstate its first conference loss, splitting a doubleheader with the Spartans, Tuesday in DeLand. Stetson took the first game 2-1 as Owen recorded her 50th career win, but dropped the second game of the day, 2-0 to its conference foes.
Owen took to the circle in the first game for her seventh start of the season and the 80th of her career. The contest was scoreless through the first three and a half innings as Owen held the Spartans to just one hit. In the bottom half of the fourth, it was Owen’s turn to do some damage at the plate as she smacked her sixth home run of the season, a booming shot over the left field fence to put the Hatters up 1-0.
Stetson held that lead until the sixth, when it would add to the slim margin after Chrissy Morello’s lead-off triple set the stage for a Demi Meza sac bunt and it was quickly 2-0, heading into the top of the seventh.
A solo home run by Upstate right fielder Ryan Rector cut the Hatter lead in half, but Owen shook off the long ball and retired USC in the final frame for the win, the 50th of her decorated career. Owen became just the sixth player in program history to accomplish the feat and did so striking out a pair of batters in the process.
In the night cap, senior Sarah Read got the start and went five innings, scattering eight Upstate hits, which led to two runs. The Spartans scored in the second and the fifth and lead by that margin, heading into the sixth, when Courtney Brandt came in relief to pitch the final two frames. Brandt was effective, giving up just one hit and striking out three, but the Hatter bats were held to just one hit, a single to center by Kayla Drury in the fifth. Spartan pitcher Anna Miller went the full seven and was credited with the win as Read (6-1) was tagged with her first loss of the season.
A pair of Hatters had two hits apiece during the Tuesday twin bill as Drury was 2-4 with a walk and Morello went 2-6 with a run scored.
With the split, Stetson moves to 13-4 overall and 1-1 in A-Sun play, while USC Upstate is now 23-3 and 4-1. The Hatters and Spartans go at it once again on Wednesday afternoon at Patricia Wilson Field. First pitch for the single contest is scheduled for 4 p.m.
Tickets start at $5 for the game on Wednesday and can be purchased online at GoHatters.com/tix or at the Patricia Wilson Field box office. Stetson students, faculty, and staff are free with a valid ID. Subscription based live video of the Stetson games will be available on HatterVision. Live stats, the Stetson softball twitter feed, and the Hat-Alerts text messaging system will provide in-game updates as well.
POST GAME NOTES
--Meredith Owen has exactly 50 wins in 80 career starts.
--Owen’s home run was the 24th of her career, placing her in sole possession of third place on the all-time program list.
--Tuesday’s Game 1 victory was Stetson’s first conference opening win since 2009, when it defeated Jacksonville 3-2 on the road.