Tampa Spoils Opening of Chris Bellotto Field with 4-2 Comeback Win over Moccasins
LAKELAND, FL – The long-awaited opening of Chris Bellotto Field and the return of the Florida Southern softball team to its on-campus home got off to a rousing start Friday night against Tampa with a big first inning that put the Moccasins in the lead. The Spartans, however, spoiled the party by rallying for 4-2 win in the Sunshine State Conference opener for both teams.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Florida Southern (3-2, 0-1 SSC) put its first four batters on base in the bottom of the first, which started with a leadoff walk by Lindsey Wilson. Shannon Bell then delivered the first run ever scored on the Moccasins' new home field by drilling a triple into the left centerfield gap that brought in Wilson. Jessica Trana then doubled to right to make it a 2-0 game and Alex Mace followed with a single that put runners at the corners with none out. The Mocs were held to just three hits and three base runners though, the remainder of the night by Tampa pitcher Makaleigh Dooley.
- The Spartans (4-5, 0-1) tied the game with two in the top of the third, an inning where they loaded the bases on singles by Sahrina Cortes and Cristina Clauberg, and a fielding error that allowed Dooley to reach. The Spartans then scored both of their runs on the same play when Maddie Farrell hit a ground ball back to pitcher Aubrey Ehlers, who was unable to get the force out at home. With Cortes scoring as the ball bounced away toward the backstop, Farrell headed to second, only to find Dooley already there after retreating from third. With all three runners in limbo, catcher Zierra Flodman got the ball to Trana at first, preventing Farrell from returning there. But with Farrell hung up between first and second where she was eventually tagged out, Clauberg was able to come down the line from third and beat another throw home to score the tying run.
- Tampa took the lead in the top of the fourth on a bases-loaded RBI single by Clauberg, the third hit of the night for the Spartan shortstop. Jenna Weldon entered to pitch for Florida Southern at that point and kept it a one-run game by getting a force out at the plate and a pop-up to third.
- The score remained 3-2 until Tampa pushed across another run in the top of the seventh on an RBI single by Shelby Press, bringing in Maddie Farrell who had doubled earlier in the inning. The Moccasins got a base runner in the bottom of the seventh when Desirae Klumpp singled with two out, but Dooley ended the game with a strikeout.
- Dooley went the distance to improve to 4-4, giving up two runs on six hits with four strikeouts and one walk. The junior retired 21 of the last 24 batters after giving up four consecutive base runners to start the game.
- Ehlers and Weldon split the game for Florida Southern will Ehlers starting, and pitching the first 3.1 innings. Weldon then pitched 4.0 innings before Ehlers re-entered and got the final two outs of the game. The Spartans collected 13 hits off them but only two earned runs. The two Moccasins combined for five strikeouts and three walks.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Shannon Bell was involved in not only the first scoring play at Chris Bellotto Field with her RBI triple in the bottom of the first, she also kept Tampa from scoring the first run. In the top of the first inning after Clauberg's first hit, Dooley drilled a double to the fence in left center, but Bell tracked it down, hit shortstop Makayla Deuberry with the cut-off throw, and Deuberry got it to home plate in time for Flodman to put the tag on Clauberg. Bell also had a double in the fifth inning for two of Florida Southern's six hits.
- Deuberry made the defensive play of the night with a leaping catch in the top of the fourth that took a hit away from Emalee Jansen, and her quick throw to first nearly doubled off Shelby Press.
- Flodman was another defensive standout for the Moccasins as the junior catcher threw out both Tampa runners attempting to steal. She had an unusual stat line with five assists, an almost unheard of number for a catcher.
UP NEXT: Florida Southern and Tampa square off again Saturday in a doubleheader that begins at 1 p.m.