Eagles off to best start in program history
This weekend, the Florida Gulf Coast University softball team had its best season start in program history, starting with a five-game winning streak and a draw that was due to travel accommodations. The Eagles hosted the FGCU/Four Points by Sheraton Invitational at the FGCU Softball Complex this weekend, dominating competition like Georgetown University, University of Mississippi, Western Kentucky University and Liberty University.
The Eagles’ winning momentum kicked off in the second inning of their first game of the season, against Ole Miss, when junior Kelsey Carpenter claimed the first homerun of the season after she hit a bomb out to left field for a two-run shot. Two innings later, senior Jessica Barnes followed suit with her own home to give the Eagles the 3-2 win over Ole Miss.
“I was honestly pretty surprised,” Carpenter said about hitting a two-run homerun in her first at bat. “I was pretty nervous and I think just more excited to get the season going. I just took the biggest swing ever because of my adrenaline. I was really pumped to see it go over the fence.”
Later that evening, Carpenter did it again in the Eagles’ game against Georgetown. In the bottom of the fourth, the outfielder hit another bomb to the left for a two-run homerun for the Eagles, a 2-0 win over the Hoyas. Also in the Eagles’ game against Georgetown, pitcher Jackie Owen threw a complete game shutout, only allowing one hit and striking out three. The Eagles continued their weekend earning wins over Georgetown, Liberty, Western Kentucky and finishing in a draw in game two against Western Kentucky due to traveling accommodations.
“Going into the first tournament, you never really know how you’re going to do,” said Carpenter. “You prepare during practice but games are always really different. I proved to myself I was ready for games. I think it gave me a little boost.”
Carpenter was honored with the Atlantic Sun Player of the Week award after her two homeruns, batting an average of .625 and crossing the plate eight times. The award is her first of the season and second in her career.
“I feel like even before the tournament started everyone felt like this year is going to be something special for everyone,” said Carpenter. “It was a different feeling going into it. As a team, we have a lot more to offer. We have a lot of potential as a team.”
The Eagles fly to Miami this weekend to play in the Florida International University Tournament, where they will play against University of Wisconsin, FIU, and Georgia Southern University. FGCU softball will return to the nest on Friday, Feb. 21, to play North Dakota.