DeLand, Fla. – Demi Meza’s two long balls propelled the Stetson softball team to a doubleheader sweep Friday and in the process gave head coach Frank Griffin his 800th career victory. The junior infielder went deep once in the first game of the Stetson Lead-Off Classic, as the Hatters defeated Michigan State 5-1, she then repeated the feat in the second game, a 12-0 shutout over Rhode Island.
With Griffin sitting on 799 career wins entering the 2014 campaign, the Hatters wasted no time in trying to give their coach No. 800 as junior transfer Amanda Grimaldo singled home the season’s first run and gave Stetson an early 1-0 first inning lead. After Michigan State tied the game up in the top of the fourth, Griffin’s squad plated four runs in the bottom of the fifth to make it 5-1. The four-run rally was highlighted by two home runs in the inning, the first a three run shot to right by starting pitcher Meredith Owen and then two batters later a solo homer to left by Meza.
The offensive explosion was all the cushion Owen would need in the circle, as she earned the win, going seven full and giving up one unearned run on just four hits, while striking out eight. Following the first game of the doubleheader, Griffin was given a signed ball from his team and received an ovation from the Patricia Wilson Field crowd on becoming just the 40th NCAA Division I head coach to accomplish the milestone.
With 800 in the rearview mirror, the Hatters focused their attention on Rhode Island in Game 2 and like the first game they were eager to get on the board, plating runs in each of the the first four innings. Meza’s two-run home run to right center highlighted the first inning and after one the Rams found themselves in a 3-0 hole. Stetson’s offense showed no signs of cooling off on the cool night in DeLand as Hatter bats stayed hot, collecting eight total hits off Rhode Island pitching in the 12-1, five inning victory.
Senior Sarah Read was virtually unhittable in the circle for Stetson during the second game, giving up an infield single in the first and not another one for the rest of the contest. Read walked three and struck out three during her five-inning, one-hit shutout.
Other Hatters with solid offensive days at the plate included freshman Jessie TenBroeck who went 2-4 in the first game, singling in her very first collegiate at-bat. A total of five Stetson players collected multi-hit games including Kayla Drury in the first vs. MSU and then Chrissy Morello, who hit a three-run home run, Grimaldo and Meza in the second against URI.
Stetson (2-0) will take on Rhode Island at 4 p.m., Saturday at Patricia Wilson Field followed by a 6:30 p.m. game with Michigan State. The Spartans and Rams will play in the first game of the day, 1:30 p.m. as the Stetson Lead-Off Classic continues.
POST GAME QUOTES
Stetson Head Coach Frank Griffin
On his team’s 2-0 start to the 2014 season…
“I thought both pitchers did their jobs and we were able to pound out some hits and score some runs, which I was pretty pleased about. We had a couple of errors in that first game that I was a
little disappointed about but the playing conditions of the infield weren’t ideal because of the rain, but for our first day I was really pleased.”
On his team’s offensive production…
“It’s early and I think as we see more pitchers and play more games our offense is going to turn it up a notch or two.”
On the 800th win of his career…
“I have been very fortunate to be able to recruit the kind of athletes to win those games. I have been very fortunate to have the kind of coaching staff I have to help win those games. Right now, I am blessed with both.”
Junior infielder Demi Meza
On her two-home run performance…
“My first two at bats were (just) okay but my teammates helped pump me up, by saying ‘Don’t worry, you go it’, and I ended up coming out swinging.”
On Coach Griffin’s historic milestone…
“We are super proud of him because at the beginning of the day we had a ball ready for him and it said 800. We all signed it, so we were ready to win for him, we all knew we had to win for him and we came out and came strong.”
POST GAME NOTES
--Three Stetson freshmen made their collegiate debuts Friday (Jessie TenBroeck, Kelsey Waters and Lydia Kinney).
--TenBroeck started the first two games of her career, while Waters and Kinney each entered the Rhode Island games as substitutions.
--TenBroeck and junior transfer Amanda Grimaldo both singled in their first at bat as Stetson players, both in the first inning of Game 1 vs. Michigan State.
--Taylor Cochran picked up her first career hit, a double in the fifth inning vs. Rhode Island.
--Sarah Read recorded the first complete game shutout of her career.
--Demi Meza is now tied for sixth place on the all-time Stetson home run list with 16.
--Frank Griffin’s career record now stands at 801-462 and 576-376 at Stetson.