|Stetson Splits With Jacksonville, Nears A-Sun Bid|
DeLand, Fla. - Sophomore pitcher Meredith Owen (Jackson, Miss.) tossed a five-hit shutout with six strikeouts and provided all her own offense with her sixth home run of the season as the Stetson softball team (24-20, 9-9 Atlantic Sun) beat visiting Jacksonville (30-23, 10-8 A-Sun) 1-0 in the opener of a doubleheader Thursday at Patricia Wilson Field. The Hatters dropped the nightcap 3-0 to close the regular season.
Stetson could have clinched an A-Sun tournament spot (May 9-12 in Spartanburg, S.C.) with a sweep this afternoon, but instead will await the outcome of Friday and Saturday's games in Nashville, Tennessee. The Hatters will claim the sixth and final spot in the tourney if Belmont (11-34, 5-9 A-Sun) drops any one of its last four home games against ETSU and USC Upstate or if Lipscomb loses at least three of its last four at home against the same opponents.
GAME 1 - STETSON 1, JACKSONVILLE 0
Owen worked out of several slippery situations in the opener, getting the Dolphins to leave two runners on base in the first, the bases loaded in the third and then finally two on in the seventh to end the game and preserve the Stetson shutout win.
With two out and nobody on in the bottom of the third, Owen stepped to the plate and smacked reigning A-Sun Pitcher of the Year Sarah Sigrest's 1-0 pitch over the center field wall on a rising line drive. Jacksonville center fielder Kayla Ouellet scaled the fence and nearly made a terrific home run-robbing catch but could not quite pull the ball in; that shot proved to be the game's only run.
An error and a Codi Kelly double in the top of the seventh gave the Dolphins runners on second and third with one out, but Owen induced Ouellet to ground out to third and third baseman Amanda Schmidt to fly out to center field to end the ballgame. Owen's victory was her 14th of the season and fifth via shutout.
Senior shortstop Chelsey Trotto (Lantana, Fla.) went two for three at the plate for the Hatters. Sigrest struck out four in a complete game effort for JU while Kelly went three for four with a double. Stetson went 6-3 in openers of A-Sun doubleheaders in 2012, finishing with three straight wins in such situations.
GAME 2 - JACKSONVILLE 3, STETSON 0
Stetson freshman Courtney Brandt (Dade City, Fla.) and Jacksonville senior Brittany Eppley traded zeroes in the circle from the first inning into the seventh, but three Dolphin runs in the top of the seventh gave JU the nightcap win and a split.
Second baseman Karson Tuck, who had previously doubled, connected for a solo homer to center field to lead off the top of the final frame and break a 0-0 stalemate in JU's favor. First baseman Melissa Morales would drive in two unearned insurance runs later in the inning with a double off the left center field fence.
The Tuck home run was all the support Eppley would require as she shut the Hatters out on just one base hit with nine strikeouts. Brandt singled down the left field line leading off the bottom of the second for Stetson's only hit of the game.
Sophomore center fielder Chrissy Morello (Ormond Beach, Fla.) stole her team-leading 20th base of the season and tied Lynda Knighton '97 for eighth on the Stetson all-time steals list with 48. Brandt struck out three in a complete game. The loss was Stetson's first to the Dolphins at Patricia Wilson Field in 11 games since the facility opened in 2003.
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