TALLAHASSEE – Kensie Green's two-run single was the only hit in a three-run first inning that helped propel Kelli Gault to the biggest win of her young career, but a couple of late-inning defensive plays by Zierra Flodman and Lindsey Wilson made sure those efforts did indeed result in a 4-2 win by the Moccasins over 15th-ranked West Florida. That came after the Argonauts won the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader, 2-0.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME ONE:
- West Florida (27-17) did its scoring with single runs in the third and sixth innings when it collected five of its eight hits. Three of those came in succession at the start of the third from Jibrasha Moore, Meghan Toney, and Callan Taylor. Moore stole second following her hit and came home two batters later when Taylor lined a pitch down the line in left. Toney later led off the bottom of the fifth inning with a single and stolen base, putting her in position to score on a two-out single by Grace Gilbert.
- Gilbert was also West Florida's pitcher in the opener and limited Florida Southern (25-20) to three hits in tossing her first shutout of the season. Those hits came from Flodman in the fourth, Jessica Trana in the sixth, and Desirae Klumpp in the seventh. The Moccasins also got two walks from Green in the fourth and sixth, and had three batters reach on West Florida errors, but left all eight of their runners on base. In addition to giving up three hits and two walks, Gilbert had five strikeouts as she upped her record to 11-4.
- Kristen Beacham pitched a complete game too for Florida Southern while giving up eight hits, all singles. She struck out four and walked two, but fell to 8-4.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME TWO:
- A walk by Shannon Bell and an error that allowed Trana to reach put runners at the corners with one out in the top of the first inning. Flodman then hit a hard grounder to first baseman Callan Taylor, who knocked it down and got the out at the bag, but could not prevent Bell from scoring the Mocs' first run. After Jenna Weldon was hit by a pitch, Sarah Maloney threw a wild pitch that pushed both Moccasins into scoring position, and Green made it count with a two-run single into left.
- Bell helped the Mocs score again in the top of the fourth when she singled with two out and stole second. Trana drove her in with another single and the Mocs were up 4-0.
- The Argonauts had put five runners on base against Gault in the first two innings but stranded all five of them after falling behind 3-0. Back-to-back infield singles by Moore Toney in the bottom of the first came to naught when Weldon fielded a ground ball by Taylor and initiated a run-down play between third and home plate that resulted in the first out. The Argos decided not to take a chance on Bell's arm on a fly ball to center for the second out and another ground ball to Weldon ended the inning. In the bottom of the second, a single by Tiona Hill, an error and another infield hit by Moore loaded the bases, but Gault again escaped with an infield pop-up.
- The Argos broke through in the bottom of the fifth when two hits, including a third infield single by Moore, one walk, and two errors gave them four base runners but only one run. That run scored on one of the errors when the Mocs were unable to get a force out at the plate. Flodman kept the Argonauts from scoring another run after Gault threw a pitch that bounced past her and went to the backstop. When the ball caromed off the backstop, Flodman pounced on it and raced back to the plate to trap Moore between third and home for the second time in the game. After chasing her back, Flodman put the tag on her for out number two in the fifth inning, and Gault got the final out on a ground ball to shortstop Makayla Deuberry.
- In the bottom of the seventh, it was Wilson's turn to shine on defense. After Gault recorded the first out, Moore hit a sinking line drive into short right that looked like it would surely get down for her fourth hit of the game. Instead, Wilson made a diving catch to keep it off the ground as she rolled over and secured it for the second out. It proved to be a much bigger player when Toney walked and Taylor singled to put runners at first and second and knock Gault out of the game. Aubrey Ehlers came in to face cleanup batter Kathleen Smiley and surrendered a base hit that brought in Toney, but when Taylor tried to go first-to-third, Flodman threw her out after receiving the initial throw from Bell in center. That was the final out of the game and gave the Moccasins their 4-2 win.
- Gault earned the win, her first over a nationally ranked team, upping her record to 7-8. In 6.2 innings, the sophomore gave up only two runs (one earned) on eight hits with one strikeout and two walks. Ehlers picked up her third save by getting the final out.
- Malone fell to 7-4 with the loss, giving up all four Florida Southern runs on five hits in 5.0 innings, though only the final run was earned. She struck out eight and walked two. Tori Perkins went the final 2.0 innings, gave up one hit, struck out two and walked one.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- West Florida is the defending South Region champion and reached the national semifinals last year.
- Florida Southern had not made a trip to the Florida panhandle since the 1998 South Region Tournament that was hosted by West Florida in Pensacola, and it was their first regular season game in the panhandle since a 1996 trip to Pensacola. The last time the Moccasins played in the state capital was in 1986 in a tournament hosted by Florida State 32 years ago.
- Gilbert had six assists in the pitcher's circle for West Florida in game one, and a total of seven ground balls hit back to her.
- The Moccasins tied a team record in game two when they were hit by a pitch four times. It's the fourth time in team history that has happened, the last previous time happening in a 12-inning game vs. Nova Southeastern in 2011. It hadn't happened in a 7-inning game since 1997. All four times they were hit Tuesday came against the same two hitters, with Klumpp and Weldon each being plunked twice. Weldon had a perfect game at the plate with those two HBPs in addition to a single and a walk.
- In addition to her hit-saving catch, Wilson threw a runner out at second when Jacquelynne Poling tried to stretch a single into a double in the fourth inning of game two. Wilson had another outfield assist nullified in game two on an obstruction call. She leads the team with five outfield assists this season.
UP NEXT: The Moccasins wrap up the 2018 season with a three-game series in Davie at Nova Southeastern on Friday and Saturday. Game one is Friday night at 6 p.m., and the teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday at 1 p.m.