LAKELAND, FLA. – After a tough loss to Nova Southeastern in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, in which the Sharks came back for a 5-2 win, Florida Southern got exactly what it needed in game two from Aubrey Ehlers and Samantha Prosser. Ehlers tossed her first career complete game shutout for the Moccasins, and Prosser's RBI triple in the fifth helped give them some breathing room in a 3-0 win over the Sharks.
The Moccasins (3-4, 1-2 Sunshine State Conference) led the first game 2-0, just as they did Friday night, but the Sharks (8-5, 2-1) again came from behind for the win by scoring three runs in the top of the fourth and two more in the sixth. Celia Higgins had two hits and two RBI in that game, including an inside-the-park home run that started the scoring.
In game two, Ehlers pitched the shutout by working around seven hits, but all of them were singles, only two of them reached scoring position, and there were no walks. It was the Mocs' first shutout of the season and it ended an eight-game winning streak by the Sharks. Meanwhile, Meghan Sexton, Prosser, and Higgins all had run-scoring hits to give Florida Southern its three runs.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME ONE:
- Higgins put the Moccasins ahead in the bottom of the first inning by hitting the first home run of her college career, the first of the season for Florida Southern, and the first hit by any Moccasin at Chris Bellotto Field since it opened in 2018. The freshman third baseman went the opposite way to left field, and when Brooke Ferguson came up short on a diving attempt at the line, the ball continued rolling into the corner in foul territory. That allowed Higgins to circle the bases for the Moccasins' first inside-the-park home run since Jordan Alexander hit one in similar fashion against Colorado Christian on February 12, 2016. That was also the last home run hit by a Moccasin at their former on-campus home, Barnett Field.
- The Mocs added to their lead in the bottom of the third after Makayla Deuberry drew a leadoff walk and moved to second when a ground ball hit by Prosser was mishandled for an error. After Jadin Dewith walked to load the bases, Higgins grounded out to second, which brought in Deuberry to make it 2-0.
- Pitcher Kelli Gault held the Sharks scoreless through the first three innings, and allowed only one hit during that time, an infield single by Keeley Mayers. The Sharks got to her though in the top of the fourth when three of their first four batters had hits, the last of which was Mayers' two-run double. Mayers then scored on a two-out throwing error, which gave Nova a 3-2 lead.
- The Sharks' final two runs came in the sixth on a two-run single by Tia Williams, driving in Aubry Hernandez, who doubled leading off the inning, and Mayers, who was hit by a pitch.
- Florida Southern had its chances off Miriam Schmoll, but left the bases loaded in the third after scoring its second run, and stranded two more in both the fourth and fifth innings. Of the nine runners the Mocs left on base, six were in scoring position. Dewith nearly got one of them in, however, when she ripped a line drive at third baseman Kayla Kight with two out in the sixth, with Maddi Conner standing at third following a leadoff double. Kight didn't make the catch, but did knock it down, and recovered in time to throw Dewith out at first, preventing the Mocs from cutting into the three-run deficit.
- Schmoll went the distance for the win to improve to 3-2 on the season, allowing two runs (one earned) on just five hits. She struck out three and walked four. Gault fell to 0-3 with the loss, surrendering five runs (four earned) on five hits with five strikeouts and four walks.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS OF GAME ONE:
- Higgins had two of the Moccasins' five hits, including a triple in the fifth inning, with the others coming from Conner, Prosser, and Jessica Trana. Zierra Flodman did not have a hit but walked twice and threw a runner out attempting to steal. Higgins is the first Moccasin since Sara Lovestrand in a 14-4 win over Nova Southeastern in 2009 to have a triple and a home run in the same game.
- Florida Southern and Nova Southeastern were the only teams in the SSC last year to not hit a home run in their home park, but both have already done that this season.
- The Moccasins' last three inside-the-park home runs have come from Higgins, Alexander, and current assistant coach Gianni Artidiello, who hit one in a game against Columbus State during a tournament at Saint Leo in 2013.
- Florida Southern went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and 1-for-15 with runners on base. Nova Southeastern was only 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position and 3-for-15 with runners on base, but two of those hits were Mayers' two-run double in the fourth and Williams' two-run single in the sixth.
- Dewith did not have a hit for the first time this season, but did walk once. She's now one of three freshmen in team history to start her career with a five-game hitting streak. Jackie Leppla (six games) and Jesse Shepherd (five) both did it in 2004. Katie Goppert hit safely in her first seven starts that year, but had already played as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner prior to that.
- Mayers went 2-for-2 with a hit-by-pitch for Nova, marking the seventh time this year she has been hit. She led the SSC last year with 20 HBPs.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME TWO:
- The Moccasins again scored in the first inning when Dewith walked, stole second and came home on a two-out RBI single by Sexton. They had two hits and two walks in the bottom of the first, with a runner thrown out at the plate behind Dewith, but Nova pitcher Lexie Storrer settled down after that, and Higgins' single in the third was the only base runner the Mocs had over the next three innings.
- Deuberry got the Mocs going again in the bottom of the fifth with a single down the right field line that skipped away for an error that allowed her to take second on the play. It didn't matter since Prosser immediately followed with a triple to the deepest part of the park, making it a 2-0 game. Not long after, Prosser also scored when Higgins singled into left for her second hit of the game and fourth of the doubleheader.
- After finishing game one with a scoreless seventh inning in relief of Gault, Ehlers took the ball to start game two in the circle and turned in the best game of her career at Florida Southern. Even while giving up seven hits, the Sharks really only had two scoring threats in the game. One of those came in the third when they had two hits, but Sexton handled a ground ball at second to finish the inning with runners at the corners. Nova also had two hits in the sixth, but Prosser made a long running catch in left center for one out, and Sexton again ended the inning with a force out at second. That was one of five consecutive outs to end the game for Ehlers.
- Ehlers threw 83 pitches in the shutout and had one strikeout without issuing a walk. She got the final out of the game by fielding a ground ball hit by Williams to complete the shutout. She's now 3-1 on the season with a 1.13 ERA.
- Storrer, who won Friday night's game for Nova, fell to 5-3 with the loss, giving up three runs on six hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS OF GAME TWO:
- Ehlers led Florida Southern in appearances last year and was one of the SSC's best relievers, but this year has already made five starts. The shutout was her first since she was a sophomore at Hillsborough Community College and won a game at Polk State, 16-0 in five innings. Her last seven-inning shutout was a 2-0 win over South Florida State on March 28 of that year in which she gave up only three hits.
- Higgins had her fourth straight two-hit game for the Moccasins, going 2-for-3, and has a five-game hitting streak overall. Trana went 1-for-3 and is now the only Moccasin to hit safely in every game this season.
- By walking and scoring in the top of the first inning, Dewith has reached with a hit or a walk in every game this season.
- Prosser went 2-for-5 in doubleheader and was starting the first games of her college career.
- The Moccasins maintained their lead over Nova Southeastern in the all-time series, which now stands at 27-26. It was the first shutout for either team against the other since 2014, a 3-0 win by Nova in Lakeland. The Mocs' last shutout of the Sharks came in 2013, a 2-0 win by Lauren Wolfe, who held them to just two hits.
Florida Southern's next game is Friday, February 22 at the University of Tampa. The single game starts at 6 p.m.