BOCA RATON, Fla. (May 9, 2012) - No. 3 seed FIU defeated No. 6 seed Troy, 4-1, in the opening round of the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Softball Championship on Wednesday afternoon at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla.
With the win, the Panthers improve to 28-25 on the season, advancing in the winner's bracket to face No. 2 seed South Alabama on Thursday at 4 p.m.
Troy led off the game with a bunt single by Michelle Hewett. With one out, the Trojans had a runner in scoring position as Hewett stole second. However, junior Kayla Burri and sophomore Rachel Slowik came through with leaping catches to end the half-inning. The bottom of the first saw much of the same for FIU, as junior Jessy Alfonso led off with a single to right centerfield before Troy picked up three quick outs to bring the inning to a close.
FIU picked up its second hit of the game in the bottom of the second as Slowik connected for a lead-off bunt single, but once again, the Trojans tallied three-straight outs to leave the runner stranded.
Troy got its lead-off batter aboard with an infield single in the top of the third and a sac bunt moved the runner to second. The Trojans would connected with a two-out single to right centerfield to drive in a run and take a 1-0 lead. Alfonso posted her second hit of the day with a one-out single in the bottom of the third, but two-straight outs brought the inning to a close.
The bottom of the fourth saw junior Brie Rojas lead off with a double, her seventh of the season, before a pair of Troy errors on a Slowik fielder's choice allowed two runs to cross the plate, giving FIU a 2-1 advantage. Freshman Shelby Graves followed up with a single to left field, but a double play cleared the bases and the Trojan defense came up with out number three to end the inning.
Alfonso drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the fifth and Burri came through with an infield single, as Alfonso reached third on the play. Troy intentionally walked senior Ashley McClain to load the bases before a sac fly by Rojas scored Alfonso to make it 3-1 in favor of FIU. Burri advanced to third and McClain reached second on the play, but they were left stranded as the Trojans picked up the final out of the inning.
Graves singled to right field to lead off the bottom of the sixth for the Panthers, and senior Kelsey Grabiak followed suit with a single of her own. A sac bunt by senior Jenny Welch moved the runners to second and third before sophomore Megan Horne notched a sac fly to score Graves and send the Panthers into the seventh inning with a 4-1 lead.
Sophomore Mariah Dawson came back from a 3-0 count to pick up her fourth strikeout of the game and 200th of the season for out number one in the top of the seventh, and a Rojas-to-Graves putout produced the inning's second out. The Trojans managed one more hit, but the Panthers came up with the final out to come away with a 4-1 victory.
Dawson becomes just the second player in program history to achieve 200 strikeouts in a season, and her 200 career K's rank second all-time on the FIU single-season charts. The All-SBC second team selection improved to 20-12 with today's win, allowing one run on four hits in her 17th complete-game effort of the campaign.
Alfonso and Graves each went 2-for-3 on the day, scoring one run apiece, while Rojas and Horne drove in one RBI apiece.
Fans can follow all the action at the 2012 SBC Championship via live stats and live video at www.SunBeltSports.org, and by following @FIUSoftball on Twitter.
About FIU Athletics: FIU Athletics is home to more than 400 student-athletes in 18 different sports, and is a proud member of the Sun Belt Conference and an affiliate member of Conference USA (men's soccer). Athletic events are played in seven different venues on FIU's campuses (Modesto A. Maidique and Biscayne Bay), including U.S. Century Bank Arena and Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium.
About FIU: Florida International University is recognized as a Carnegie engaged university. Its colleges and schools offer more than 180 bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs in fields such as engineering, international relations, architecture, law and medicine. As one of South Florida's anchor institutions, FIU is worlds ahead in its local and global engagement, finding solutions to the most challenging problems of our time. FIU emphasizes research as a major component of its mission and enrolls nearly 48,000 students in two campuses and three centers including FIU Downtown on Brickell and the Miami Beach Urban Studios. More than 140,000 alumni live and work in South Florida. FIU is a member of the Sun Belt Conference and has 400 student-athletes participating in 18 sports. For more information about FIU, visit http://www.fiu.edu/.
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