LAKELAND – Twice on Wednesday night, in its 2016 home opening doubleheader with Spring Hill (AL), Florida Southern found itself on the wrong end of 1-0 scores. Held to just two hits in the first 12 innings of those two games, the outlook may have looked bleak for the Moccasins, but as it turned out, it made what happened next all the more thrilling – not once, but twice. Maggie Roberts and Dana Mackiewicz delivered a pair of 1-out RBI singles in the bottom of the seventh in game one, and the Mocs scored two runs on a dropped throw at first base in game two to rally for a pair of 2-1 wins over the Badgers.
All of the Moccasins got their running in Wednesday night, sprinting out of the dugout during both ends of the doubleheader to celebrate the two walk-off wins that evened their record at 2-2. Many of the Moccasins' 12 newcomers played a vital role in one win or the other, including Mackiewicz, a junior college transfer from Pasco-Hernando, and freshman Hannah Whisman, who were responsible for the winning runs, albeit in different fashion. Then there was senior Jordan Alexander, one of the veterans, who was involved in both uprisings and broke up a no-hit bid by Spring Hill All-American Caroline Sagrera in the bottom of the seventh in game one.
Both wins were made possible by the brilliant pitching of juniors Brandi Jones and Sydney Koch, who each limited the Badgers (2-7) to only five hits in their respective starts. The Mocs have seen a lot of that from Jones over the last two-plus seasons, but Koch was making her first appearance in the circle after arriving from Johnson County Community College this year.
Sagrera was working on a no-hitter for Spring Hill in game one, with the Mocs' only base runner coming on an error in the fifth inning. That runner was erased on a double play, meaning the 2-time All-American had faced the minimum of 18 batters over the first six innings. However, Alexander opened the bottom of the seventh with a triple and two batters later came home on a bunt single that Roberts pushed between third baseman Rene Kausin and shortstop Carmen Byrd.
The Mocs then got a double from junior Erica Morrissey that moved sophomore pinch-runner Jordan Sheppard to third, and freshman Zierra Flodman was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Mackiewicz. The junior outfielder from Spring Hill, Florida came through by looping a ball over Byrd, who was drawn in from her shortstop position. Unable to get back on it, the ball dropped in and allowed Sheppard to score the winning run.
In the second game, the Mocs were held to two hits through six innings by Danielle Clark before again coming back in the bottom of the seventh. Freshman Jessica Trana started this rally by drawing a 1-out walk and freshman Makayla Deuberry followed with a bunt single that was almost identical to the one put down by Roberts in game one. Clark was able to get the second out, but Alexander extended the inning for Florida Southern by drawing her third walk of the game.
That brought Whisman to the plate with the bases loaded and two out for her first career at-bat. The freshman from Naples hit a grounder to third that was fielded by Madeline Burchell who threw over to Makayla Herrin at first. But with Whisman racing down the line and closing in on the bag, the ball popped out of the glove of Herrin as Sheppard again scored as a pinch-runner, and it rolled far enough away that freshman Annemarie Tracey was also able to score for the 2-1 Florida Southern win.
Picking up the wins for Florida Southern were Jones and Koch, who had nearly identical pitching lines with one run on five hits and two strikeouts. Jones did not walk a batter, and Koch walked just one. Jones needed only 63 pitches to win the opener, and Koch threw only 78. Each pitcher also allowed a run in the top of the first inning.
Jenna Charnock drove in Spring Hill's run in game one, and Mary Glass had the Badger RBI in game two. Charnock went 3-for-4 with a walk in the doubleheader, and Byrd also hit safely in each game.
Florida Southern will play another doubleheader at home on Friday night at 5 p.m. when it hosts Colorado Christian.