AVE MARIA, Fla. ( Feb. 15, 2023) – Florida National University’s softball team failed to get a couple of much-needed wins in its highly anticipated doubleheader versus the Gyrenes of Ave Maria University. The Conquistadors’ (3-4) first-year head coach Wesley Pollock spent last season in blue and gold as an assistant coach for AMU and was denied a victorious return by a stellar Gyrenes (3-1) squad.
In game one, FNU suffered its first shutout of 2023, as a pitching clinic by the Gyrenes denied FNU runners from hanging a run on the scoreboard at the Ave Maria Softball field. In the first, Yleisha Perez connected on the first hit of the game with a double toward left field. But three quick outs allowed the Gyrenes their first opportunity at bat. AMU did not disappoint with one run and two hits before retiring the inning.
FNU continued to connect on some solid hits, getting into scoring position with runners on third and second. But Ave Maria’s freshman pitcher answered the call each time ending the Conquistadors’ chances to score. At the top of the fifth, Heather Cuddy was walked to first and advanced to second after Jordan Bohn was grounded out by the pitcher. Looking primed to get on the board, two Conquistador batters, Perez and Megen Johnson, were flied out toward centerfield bringing up what would become a disastrous bottom of the fifth for the visiting team.
AMU went to work in the fifth tallying three runs and two hits to secure a 4-0 lead. FNU failed to get another hit in the final two innings as both sides retired for game two.
Once play resumed, Ave Maria jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first. The breakthrough finally came for the Conquistadors in the second, after a single to the AMU pitcher from Johnson bought just enough time for Tara McCaffery to advance to home for FNU’s first run of the afternoon. Perez and Alexis Lendo advanced to second and third respectively on the same series, but a heads-up play from the Gyrenes got Perez out a few short plays later for the final play of the inning.
With the Gyrenes up 2-1, FNU took over in the fourth with a double to center field from Ana De Oliveira Obando that allowed Perez and Lendo to score one run apiece. A run from second baseman Sabrina Castelli gave the Conquistadors a 4-2 lead that was later erased by the Gyrenes on a sacrifice fly.
In the seventh, FNU was unable to keep AMU off the board as a double down the left field line sent a Gyrene batter in for the score to make it 4-4 and signaled extra innings for the Conquistadors
FNU went three and out to open the eighth, and the Gyrenes looked to close out the game with one runner on second. The game-sealing run came on a double to the left field line that pushed Ave’s Maggie Hampton to slide in for the score to the delight of the Gyrene dugout.
Up Next: Softball seeks revenge versus the St. Thomas Bobcats Feb 18 with a doubleheader starting at noon.