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Softball Stumbles Out of the Gate With 1-5 Record in FGCU Kickoff Classic

Jessica Piland/FGCU Athletics

The FGCU softball team started the 2024 season as they hosted the FGCU Kickoff Classic from Feb. 8 through Feb. 11. The Eagles played a total of six games throughout the weekend against Boston College, Georgetown, Long Island and Louisville. But the Eagles faced a rough start as they were only able to put together a 1-5 record to start the season.

The first game of the season was against Boston College on Feb 8. It was a defensive slugfest as neither team was able to record more than two runs in each of the seven innings. However, Boston College got all the offense they needed in the top of the third inning as a two-run home run put Boston College up 2-0.

FGCU was not able to respond and lost 2-0. There were only a total of three hits by FGCU compared to eight by Boston College.

FGCU played another game against Boston College on Feb. 9. Once again, FGCU was in a 2-0 deficit in the third inning when Boston College scored twice on an RBI single. This time, the Eagles responded with an RBI single of their own from graduate student right-handed pitcher and outfielder Riley Oakes to tie the game 2-2 in the fifth inning.

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The game remained tied at 2-2 and ran into extra innings. Softball overtime rules automatically start the extra innings with a runner already on second base as the teams take the field.

After a scoreless eighth inning, Boston College took a 3-2 lead with a sacrifice fly. FGCU responded with an RBI single from sophomore shortstop Tiffany Meek that tied the game 3-3.

In the 10th inning, Boston College scored on another sacrifice fly to go up 4-3. FGCU was once again in a do-or-die situation but they were able to get runners on second and third base with no outs. FGCU was unable to capitalize on this opportunity as they ended the game with three straight outs to lose 4-3.

FGCU was able to keep coming back from behind to tie Boston College, but they were never able to take the lead. FGCU will play Boston College two more times later this month when these teams face off again at the FAU Tournament in Boca Raton on Feb. 22 and 24.

After extra innings were required to finish the Boston College game, FGCU was slated to face off against the Georgetown Hoyas. The Hoyas quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. In the second inning, junior catcher Sam Leski doubled out which helped allow two Eagles to score and tie the game 2-2.

In the fourth inning, the Eagles took their first lead of the season when sophomore catcher and utility player Madison Carr grounded out to allow redshirt junior infielder Meagan Ricks to score. Ricks then got an RBI double of her own in the fifth inning to extend the lead to 4-2 for FGCU.

With senior right-handed pitcher Angelina Bonilla holding off the Hoyas’ batters after the early first inning run, the Eagles’ batters went on a scoring barrage in the bottom of the sixth inning. 

A defensive collapse by Georgetown allowed FGCU to score six straight runs on multiple RBIs but no home runs to push the score to 10-2. This immediately ended the game by mercy rule, giving the Eagles their first win of the season in impressive fashion.

After coming off of a win the night prior against Georgetown, the Eagles had another two games to play on Feb. 10. Attempting to build some positive momentum after the win, FGCU played the Long Island University Sharks next.

In contrast to the offensive explosion that happened the night before, there was little offense to speak of between the Eagles and Sharks to begin this game. That was until the top of the fourth inning as Long Island was able to strike first with a two-run home run that gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead.

No scoring opportunities presented themselves again for either team until the bottom of the sixth inning for FGCU. After a single from Meek to start the inning, she was able to advance all the way to third base. Then, with a runner in scoring position, Ricks was hit by a pitch and awarded first base. It looked as though the Eagles may make a comeback but it was not meant to be as the next hit led to a ground ball and the Sharks were out of the inning with no damage.

With an unearned run for Long Island in the top of the seventh inning, FGCU was down 3-0 and on their last opportunity in the bottom of the inning to respond. The Eagles did just that with two on base, senior left-handed pitcher and first baseman Caridad Estes came into the game as a pinch hitter and singled to right center which drove home graduate student and catcher Neely Peterson which put FGCU on the board and tightened the gap to 3-1.

However, this late push came up short for the Eagles as even with the tying run on second base, the Sharks shut them down to end the game in a 3-1 Long Island win. The standout player for FGCU in this game was Meek as she finished with three hits on four at-bats.

The University of Louisville was up next for FGCU that evening. After just the top of the first inning, the Cardinals led 3-0 off of two home runs. The damage was done early and the Eagles were unable to respond all game. It wasn’t until the top of the sixth inning where the Cardinals struck again with three more games to push the score to a 6-0 Louisville lead. That’s what the final score ended up being as the Eagles were only able to record two hits in the game.

A rematch awaited these two teams on Feb. 11 to wrap up the FGCU Kickoff Classic. The Eagles wouldn’t fare any better this time around either. It took until the top of the second inning for the Cardinals to get on the scoreboard but two home runs gave Louisville a 2-0 lead as they led the rest of the way. Adding another run in the top of the fourth inning and four runs in the top of the fifth inning allowed Louisville to cruise to a 7-0 win over FGCU. The Eagles only offense in this game were two hits from sophomore first baseman Nikki Gibson.

The FGCU Kickoff Classic didn’t end in favor of the Eagles as they opened the 2024 season 1-5. This weekend, FGCU welcomes Delaware, Akron and Middle Tennessee for the FGCU Invitational that they are currently in the midst of playing.

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About the Contributor
James Curtis, Eagle News Sports Editor
James Curtis is a senior majoring in journalism and minoring in global studies. He is from Tampa, FL, and has known he wanted to be a journalist since taking a journalism class in seventh grade. He has been involved in sports for his whole life, including swimming competitively all the way through high school. His goal now is to be a sports journalist. When not covering sports games or writing stories, he's usually spending his free time with his friends or watching YouTube.

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