Owls Drop Two of Three to FGCU

Kennesaw State dropped two out of three to Atlantic Sun Conference opponent Florida Gulf Coast over the weekend – Falling Saturday afternoon, 4-0, winning Saturday evening, 4-3, and losing Sunday’s rubber match in five innings, 8-0.

The Owls (23-19, 6-5) were outhit over the weekend 25-14, as 10 of their hits came in the lone win.

“Our biggest issue across the board has been clutch hits,” KSU head coach Tory Acheson said. “We just are not driving in runs when the opportunities are there and we leave way too many base runners on. Overall it was a frustrating weekend. We’re fortunate we got the one win on Saturday, but we did not play very well. The good news is that we’re still in the race, but the bad news is that we have to figure out a way to start playing a lot better very quickly.”

The Eagles jumped out to an early lead in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader as they loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first inning before a sacrifice fly out scored Kelsey Huff. In the ensuing at-bat, LuLu Newmark notched an RBI single to give FGCU a 2-0 lead.

The Owls threatened to score in the bottom of the third as sophomore Noelle Winkles singled with one out, stole second, and advanced to third on a groundout. Winkles was stranded on third, however, as junior Taylor Denton flied out to center field to end the inning.

FGCU added a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning on RBI singles from Jeanie Verderese and Michaela Hynes, respectively.

In game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, KSU seemed to find an offensive rhythm early on as Denton laid down a bunt for a single and later scored on an RBI single from redshirt-junior Courtney Sutter. Freshman Hannah Thomason pinch ran for Sutter and scored as senior Megan Veringa notched an RBI single up the middle to give the Owls a 2-0 lead.

FGCU plated a run in the bottom of the fourth on a sacrifice fly out to pull within a run, but KSU answered in the top of the fifth as Sutter singled up the middle to score Denton and extend their lead to 3-1.

The Eagles led off the bottom of the sixth with three consecutive singles to load the bases, followed by a two-RBI Louie Ross single up the middle to tie the game at 3-3.

With two outs in the top of the seventh inning, Veringa doubled to right center to bring Denton home from second and put the Owls back up 4-3. The Eagles threatened in the bottom of the seventh with runners on second and third with two outs, but Makensie McAvoy grounded out to first to end the game.

KSU’s offense was stifled once again in Sunday’s rubber match as FGCU surrendered just two hits, a single in the first and third innings, respectively, en route to a five-inning blowout victory.

In the bottom of the first inning, Hynes singled down the left field line to score McAvoy. A run later scored on a fielding error and the Eagles lead 2-0 heading to the second inning. A throwing error and a pair of RBI singles lead to three more runs for FGCU in the bottom of the second, extending their lead to 5-0.

Ross connected on a 1-0 pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning for an RBI single up the middle. Two batters later, Verderese singled to center field to score a pair of runs and open up an 8-0 lead for the Eagles through four innings.

After the Owls failed to score in the top of the fifth, the mercy rule was invoked.

“[Sunday]’s loss was a total effort – we really didn’t do anything well,” Acheson said. “But overall, we just need to find a way to drive in some more runs. I think because we are struggling so much to score runs, it’s putting a lot of pressure on other aspects of our game that had been pretty strong. We’ve got six conference games left and four non-conference games. We’re going to use those non-conference games to see if we can figure some things out, but we definitely have to clean some things up in this home stretch if we’re hoping to have any success down the wire.”

The Owls will return home to take on Alabama State in a double header on Wednesday, April 20 with estimated start times of 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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