Fish and Tars Split Big Thursday Night Double-Header
April 17, 2014
Written by: Michael Brown, Assistant A.D. for External Operations
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla.- After two lightning delays and rain threatening further delay all night long the dust would settle and the Palm Beach Atlantic and Rollins College softball teams would battle in a pair of highly-contested games on Thursday night. Scoreless into the ninth inning the Tars would prevail 1-0 in extra innings in the opener before the ‘Fish held on for an exciting 3-2 win in the nightcap.
The double-header split was crucial for both teams who were recently named the Nos. 5 and 6-ranked teams from the South Region in the first NCAA Regional rankings released on Wednesday night. The Tars came into the matchup with PBA ranked No. 5 with a 33-10 record while the Sailfish boasted a 28-12 overall record and a No. 6 regional ranking.
The top-8 teams in the region are awarded selections to the NCAA Regional Tournament with four teams each selected to a pair of different playing sites which will be announced at a later date. The three conferences occupying the South Region (Gulf South Conference, Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the Sunshine State Conference) will each reach receive an automatic bid with the remainder of the five selections coming as at-large bids.
In addition to the magnitude of the games in reference to both team’s postseason aspirations the win by Palm Beach Atlantic in game two was also important as it was the first-ever win for PBA over Rollins College in PBA’s NCAA Division II era.
Palm Beach Atlantic has just two remaining regular season games which will be played on Wednesday, April 23rd versus Northwood University. The double-header, which will be Senior Night, will take place at the Lake Catherine Complex at 5 pm.
Although both lightning delays would occur in the opening game the pace of the contest was otherwise swift due to the strong pitching of PBA’s Amber Johnson and RC’s Nikki Fogle.
In what was a pre-cursor for the remainder of the evening the playoff-like atmosphere saw both pitcher’s match zeroes through the first eight innings.
With the Tars down to their final out in the ninth and nobody on senior Kristie Hoeffer ripped a shot into the right-center gap that saw the speedy Tars outfielder cruise into third-base for a triple. When the Sailfish relay throw was overthrown the ball unluckily bounced into the PBA dugout which awarded Hoeffer the final base she needed to move her team on top 1-0.
Although the ‘Fish would get the potential tying run into scoring position in the bottom of the frame it would be a groundout to shortstop that would end the opener with a 1-0 Tars victory.
Fogle (Win, 22-5) was superb in the circle for Rollins as she allowed seven hits along with three walks while registering nine strikeouts. Amber Johnson (Loss, 16-5) was equally impressive as she allowed no earned runs while striking out seven batters but unfortunately came out on the losing end.
Stephanie Garrels and Camille Benito each finished with two hits in the game for the ‘Fish.
Perhaps fueled by their near miss in the opener the ‘Fish jumped out quickly in game two with a RBI single from Victoria Gonzalez in the first inning that plated Garrels. Later in the inning it was a deep drive off the bat of freshman Shelby Wood for a double that plated Gonzalez for a quick 2-0 Sailfish advantage.
The team added on in the second inning as Chelsie Hersey tripled over the head of the left-fielder that plated Mackenzie Johnson all the way from first-base for a 3-0 lead.
With Rollins threatening in the fourth inning against starting pitcher Kayti Lundin (Win, 8-2) the Sailfish opted for Amber Johnson again in relief as she would proceed to allow just one run to score as a single by RC’s Brittany Johnson cut into the PBA lead at 3-1.
Although the Tars would inch closer with another run in the sixth inning due to a bases-loaded walk the Sailfish would find a way to escape with a victory as Johnson went the final 3.2 innings in relief for her fourth save of the season.
Lundin was solid in her 3.1 innings of time in the circle as she gave the ‘Fish a solid start by allowing only one runs on five hits with a pair of walks. Johnson struck out one while working around four walks in her time in the circle.
PBA managed six hits in the win with two coming off the bat of Wood who was 2-for-2 with a walk from the cleanup spot in the order.
Hillary Brown finished 3-for-4 as part of the Tars’ eight-hit attack.