SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 09, 2014
Florida Tech a Perfect 8-0
CLEARWATER, Fla. (Softball) – Florida Tech is off to an 8-0 start following a 7-2 win over Lindenwood and a 7-0 shutout of West Florida in the final day of the Eckerd College Spring Invitational on Sunday at the Eddie C. Moore Complex.
The Panthers never trailed in either game and once again received strong pitching from starters Taylor Smith and Rachel Pence.
“I really like the way we’re playing right now,” head coach Val Silvestrini said. “We’re swinging the bats really well. We’re showing discipline at the plate. From one to nine (in our batting order), everyone is contributing to the team’s wins. Pitching wise, Taylor and Rachel are doing a great job on the mound. That gives the rest of the team a lot of confidence to score runs.
“The execution at the plate this weekend and especially today was off the charts. We moved runners, we scored runners and we sacrificed. We work really well as a team. Everyone contributed, including the girls who entered the game off the bench. They stepped up and played really well.”
Amanda Bueno helped set the tone in the first game of the day against Lindenwood. With FIT leading by one in the bottom of the first, the Lions’ Courtney Opich began the inning with a two-out double. Kendall Ryndak then singled to Bueno in center field. Lindenwood’s third base coach waved Opich around third base. Bueno received the ball and threw a rope to catcher Nicole Shinsky, who tagged Opich out at home to end the inning.
FIT sent 10 batters to the plate in the second frame and scored five runs. Shinsky came through with a two-run RBI single. She scored on a base hit to left field by Ashley Montion.
Lindenwood plated two runs in the bottom of the fourth, but Smith did not allow a base runner to reach third base in the final three innings.
Shinsky finished the game 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Elaine Brown and Montion had two hits apiece. FIT outhit Lindenwood in the game, 10-7.
Smith improved to 3-0 on the season with the win. She allowed two runs, one was earned, on seven hits and no walks. She also struck out one.
Pence earned her third shutout in four starts in the last game of the weekend against West Florida. She faced the minimum number of batters in five innings and West Florida had a base runner advance beyond first base just two times.
Brigit Godfrey sacrificed in Elizabeth Eby in the third to give FIT a 1-0 lead.
The following inning, Eby faked a bunt on the third pitch she saw and slapped it through the left side of the infield to score Jessica Callahan from second base. Kelsey Donahue then fought off seven pitches before singling to second base. Pinch runner Audrey Gangloff came all the way around from second to beat the throw from first baseman Elizabeth Nugent. Godfrey brought home Eby on an infield single to cap a three-run, five-hit inning.
FIT gave Pence three more insurance runs in the sixth and it led 7-0 going into the last inning. The first two Argos singled to center field to begin the final frame. Pence, however, remained focused. She sat down the next three batters to secure her fourth win of the season.
Pence lowered her ERA to a team-best 0.47 with her third shutout.
Donahue, Eby and Godfrey each had two hits in the game. Godfrey also had three RBIs.
“I was talking to the girls after that game,” Silvestrini said. “It doesn’t matter who we play. We can only control what we can do. It’s been working great for us. We don’t even go out to win. We go out to play good softball and the results will come.”
The Panthers will have two days off before they host Valdosta State in a doubleheader on Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Nancy Bottge Field. Live audio and stats will be available for both games at FloridaTechSports.com/live.
“We talk about (overconfidence) all the time,” Silvestrini said. “We want them to be confident and not cocky. We had great wins this weekend, but we didn’t celebrate much. We know we can win every game. We know we can beat any team in the region and in the country. We just have to play our best. It’s up to us; it’s not who we face or anything else. Our leaders are doing a great job stressing that and our pitchers are as well because they’re not overconfident. They’re taking one pitch at a time.”
Note: Florida Tech was the only team to play a full slate of games and go undefeated at 5-0 in the invitational. In all, 18 teams competed.