CLERMONT, FLA. – Aubrey Ehlers continued her early-season dominance in the pitcher's circle by tossing a two-hit shutout to beat Kentucky Wesleyan 3-0 in game one. Then, it was Jessica Trana's three RBI and a game-ending gun down at the plate by Alex Mace that gave the Mocs a 5-4 win over Davenport (Mich.) in game two and a sweep over a pair of Panther teams at the National Training Center.
Ehlers limited the first set of Panthers from Kentucky Wesleyan (4-5) to only three base runners in pitching her second shutout of the season. None of those runners (two singles and a walk) made it past first base and the senior retired the final 10 batters of the game. The Moccasins (6-6) got a bases-loaded walk from Maddi Conner in the first inning before putting the game away in the top of the seventh with their final two runs.
Florida Southern fell behind in its game against the Davenport Panthers (2-7) but Trana's two-run triple in the bottom of the first and RBI double in the third brought them back and helped put the Mocs on top 4-1. Davenport twice cut the deficit down to one run, and with Ehlers trying to close the game out in relief, the Panthers had the tying run on base in the top of the seventh. A base hit by Rachel Griffin gave them a chance, but Mace scooped up the ball in right field and gunned down the runner at the plate, preserving the win.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME ONE:
- The game got off to a nice start for the Moccasins when Jadin Dewith walked, took second on a ground out by Celia Higgins and third on a base hit by Zierra Flodman. Kentucky Wesleyan pitcher Evyn Hendrickson then issued back-to-back walks to Trana and Conner, the second of which forced in Dewith for the first run of the game.
- After the walk to Conner, it remained a 1-0 game all the way into the seventh inning as both pitchers were in total control. Ehlers gave up a single to Jaylin Tidwell in the bottom of the first and a single to Abbey Winstead in the bottom of the fourth for the only hits by the Panthers. Hendrickson, meanwhile, retired 11 in a row after the bases-loaded walk to Conner and gave up only two base runners between the second and sixth innings. Both of those were leadoff hits, a single by Makayla Deuberry in the fifth and a double by Flodman in the sixth, but the Mocs left both of them in scoring position.
- Florida Southern was finally able to expand on its lead by scoring two runs in the top of the seventh, an inning that started with a walk by Deuberry. Meghan Sexton bunted her to second and a single by Dewith put runners at the corners. Higgins got one of them in with a fly ball and the other scored on a two-out error.
- Ehlers had no problems with the Panthers in the bottom of the seventh, getting a pair of infield pop-ups and one strikeout. That gave her 10 consecutive outs to end the game. Ehlers threw just 63 pitches, an average of nine per inning, struck out four and walked one as she improved to 5-2 on the season. Hendrickson also went the distance for Kentucky Wesleyan, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits with five strikeouts and four walks. She dropped to 1-2.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS OF GAME ONE:
- The game took only 70 minutes to play, which was one minute less than the Moccasins' game at Tampa four nights earlier. Ehlers was also the pitcher in that one, tossing another two-hitter.
- Flodman had three of Florida Southern's five hits, with the others coming from Dewith and Deuberry, who also walked once. Dewith scored two of the three runs for the Mocs.
- In addition to four strikeouts, Ehlers also had four assists in the pitcher's circle.
- Florida Southern and Kentucky Wesleyan had not played each other since 1993, their only previous meeting, when the Moccasins swept a doubleheader at Barnett Field.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME TWO:
- In Florida Southern's second game, Davenport used a hit batter and consecutive two-out singles by Mariah Cura and Abby Merice to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. That was the only time the Moccasins trailed, but they could never quite put the Panthers away until the final play of the game. They took the lead though with two runs in the bottom of the first when three of their first four batters had hits off Taylor Simon, including Trana, who ripped a triple into the right field corner to plate Dewith and Higgins.
- After Flodman walked to start the third, Trana delivered another extra-base hit when she doubled to left center. Two batters later Trana scored on a ground out by Samantha Prosser to make it a 4-1 game.
- Kelli Gault worked a quiet second and third inning, but ran into trouble in the top of the fourth with consecutive one-out walks. Prosser got her another out with a nice running catch in foul territory, but pinch-hitter Alexa Flores came through for the Panthers with a two-run double that made the score 4-3.
- Taylor Davis singled and scored on a passed ball in the bottom of the fourth, pushing the Mocs' lead to 5-3 before a Forida Southern pitching change brought Kristen Beacham into the game to start the fifth. After a single and a walk, head coach Chris Bellotto turned to Ehlers again, and the senior used her defense to end the threat. Flodman pounced on a bunt in front of the plate to get a force at third for out number one, and after a walk that loaded the bases, Higgins fielded a ground ball and threw to the plate for another force out. Ehlers got the last out of the inning with yet another force play, this one coming from Deuberry at short who flipped the ball to Davis covering the bag at second.
- An error in the top of the sixth led to a two-out RBI single by Kennedy Crawford that again got Davenport within a run at 5-4. They put together another threat in the top of the seventh after a bloop single by Merice dropped into short right field just inside the line, and a wild pitch moved her to second with two out. Griffin then hit Ehlers' delivery just past Davis on the right side of the infield, and pinch-runner Briana Allen was waved around third to the plate. She never made it. Mace scooped up the ball in right field and fired a dart to Flodman who put the tag down for the final out in the 5-4 Florida Southern win.
- Gault (1-4) earned the win for Florida Southern by pitching the first four innings and allowing three runs on three hits with two strikeouts and three walks. Ehlers pitched 3.0 innings for her first save, giving up one unearned run on three hits with one walk and one strikeout. Simon fell to 0-2 with the loss for Davenport, giving up five runs (four earned) on seven hits with no strikeouts and two walks in 3.1 innings. Mallory Teunissen pitched 2.2 scoreless innings in relief.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS OF GAME TWO:
- After picking up three hits in the first game Tuesday, Flodman walked three times in the second. She's 6-for-9 with four walks in the last three games.
- Trana, Dewith, and Higgins all had two hits in game two. Higgins had her team-leading sixth multi-hit game of the season. Mace and Conner also had hits, and Mace would have had a second if not for a diving catch by center fielder Mariah Cura in the second inning.
- Florida Southern was playing Davenport for the first time. The Panthers did not begin their softball program until 2009.
Florida Southern will be in St. Petersburg on Thursday and Friday for a three-game series with Eckerd College. The first game is Thursday night at 6 p.m., with a doubleheader scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m.