The Stetson softball team scored three runs in the first, one in the second, and held on for a 4-2 victory over Kennesaw State in the rubber game of an Atlantic Sun Conference series Sunday afternoon at Patricia Wilson Field.
Jessica Griffin, Demi Meza, and Morgan Hatch each drove in runs and Meredith Owen registered her third consecutive win in the circle as the Hatters (24-17, 7-10) picked up a critical series win over the Owls (27-16, 11-10 A-Sun).
Stetson, which needs to move past two teams to qualify for next month's A-Sun tournament, is now tied with Kennesaw State in the loss column with four games at hand.
Was Sunday a must-win game for the Hatters?
"I felt like it was," Stetson head coach Frank Griffin said. "We are going to have to come up with a good win streak this week. We have two games Wednesday with North Florida and three on Saturday and Sunday with East Tennessee, I feel like we have to win all those games to get back in the hunt for the conference tournament."
Stetson's three-run first inning was aided by an illegal pitch called against KSU starter Abbey Mixon. With one out and the bases loaded, Mixon appeared to have struck out Hatch on a 2-2 offering, but the illegal pitch took the out off the board and allowed Chrissy Morello to advance home with the second run of the inning. Hatch then delivered a sacrifice fly to right to put Stetson ahead 3-0.
In the bottom of the second, Kayla Drury lined a one-out double to left field and scored on an infield single with two outs by Jessica Griffin. Drury finished the game 2-for-3 at the plate and had four assists at second base.
"Kayla is swinging the bat well, and she did a good job at second," Frank Griffin said. "I thought her defense was outstanding today."
The Owls cut the lead in half behind solo home runs from Sharon Swanson in the third and Angie Dascoli in fourth.
"(The early lead) allowed Meredith to pitch with more confidence, knowing she had a little cushion," Frank Griffin said. "The two home runs didn't hurt as bad - they were just single runs. Had there been baserunners on that could have turned the whole ball game."
Owen went to work after Dascoli's home run, retiring the final 11 consecutive batters she faced. For the game she struck out six and retired 10 others on ground ball outs.
"(Today's win) was extremely important," Owen said. "We have to get on a roll right now to get us into the conference tournament, so this is just the beginning."
Brittany Hawn, Jessica Griffin and Drury each recorded a pair of hits for Stetson.
"We knew coming into today we had to pull out a win, and we got it done," Drury said.
Winners of four out of five, the Hatters will host UNF in a doubleheader at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
Notes: Meredith Owen went 3-0 on the week and moved past 100 strikeouts on the season ... Frank Griffin coached his 1,250th career game Sunday ... Stetson improved to 19-4 when scoring first ... Chrissy Morello extended her hit streak to 10.