Kugelmann gets second no-hitter in two weeks

Santiago Archieri/ Staff Writer

FIU softball dropped their three first games of this past weekend before turning it around with yet another no hitter by Megan Kugelmann.

The Panthers took their 11-5 record on the road for the first time all season, and a short trip took them to Gainesville as they were set to be competing in the UF invitational, hosted by the University of Florida.

The first game of the tournament for FIU was against Illinois State on Friday, March 4th. The 3-11 Redbirds looked to be in danger after Dani Mowry hit a two-RBI to extend the FIU lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the third.

In the fourth inning, the day came to an end for Abby Summers, who started strong but then gave up three RBIs and 5 hits all in one inning. The sequence tied the game at 4-4. Kugelmann took the mound, and she gave up three more runs for the Redbirds in her 2 innings of play.

Rachel Dwyer came in as the reliever in the 7th inning, and she recorded a strikeout, but it was all too late for FIU. The Panthers pitching collapsed and the Illinois State Redbirds pulled off the upset with a final score of 8-4. Kugelmann dropped to 2-1, her first loss of the season, while Summers got a no decision in the game.

The Panthers had a second game of a double-header coming up the same evening, and it was against the No. 1 ranked University of Florida Gators. The Gators, also the hosts of the tournament, came into the game with a 17-0 record.

It was a defensive battle between both teams. After trailing most of the game, the Panthers offense showed some signs of life with a Dominique Grossman homerun to cut the lead 2-1. It was the first homerun allowed by the Gators all season, and it broke up a perfect game bid. However, it was the only hit the Panthers managed all game, and it would wound up in a 3-1 defeat. The loss drops Corrine Jenkins to a 1-3 record for the season.

The troubles carried on for FIU onto their next game on Saturday, March 5th . FIU started off the day with a rematch against the University of Florida Gators. This time, the Gators wasted no time, and scored six runs in the first inning. Summers started the game and left in the first inning after allowing a homerun, followed by back-to-back RBI singles. Hunter Schaarf would replace Summers, but she also gave up two runs of her own in the opening inning. FIU would find themselves in an early hole, down 6-0.

The game did not turn over for the Panthers at all. FIU only scuffled two hits and two walks all game. The Gators went on to win easily 10-0. For Summers, it was her second loss of the season (5-2), and she gave up six runs on five hits.  The loss also marked the biggest losing streak for the Panthers at 3, dropping them to 11-8 and 0-3 on the road.

FIU had one more game on that Saturday to cap off a double header, and there was no better way for the Panthers to get back to their winning ways than with a Megan Kugelmann no-hitter.

Kugelmann tossed her second no hitter in two weeks in an 8-0 win over Florida A&M University. She also had three strikeouts and walked just one in the victory.

The bats were banging once again for FIU as well. After scoring one run in their previous two games, FIU managed 8 runs on 8 hits, being led by Jackie Schoff going 3 for 4 while scoring two runs.

The win improved the Panthers to 12-8 and dropped the FAMU Rattlers to 5-10. The stage was set to close the tournament against the South Alabama Jaguars on Sunday, March 6th. The Jaguars were in the “Receiving Votes” category for the USA Today/ National Fastpitch Coaches Association Coaches Poll in the past week.

South Alabama struck first, scoring two runs in the first inning. Jenkins got off to another rough start, walking four batters and a run, and giving up an RBI single in the first inning.

The FIU offense found some rhythm in the third inning, scoring two runs after Ashley Leon batted in a run on her single.

The score stayed knotted at 2-2 until the final inning of play. A.J Belans made her way to first after a walk, but moved to third after a Deven Kennedy sacrifice walk and Jaguars error. Grossman made her way back to the plate and a hit down centerfield bought Belans in for the game winning run. The score would end at 3-2.

Jenkins got a much needed win to go to 2-3 for the season, and the Panthers improve to 13-8 overall.

The Panthers come back to Felsberg field on Tuesday, March 8th against East Carolina and Wednesday, March 9th for a double header against Notre Dame. These games will set the stage for FIU’s first look at a Conference USA opponent in the season. The Panthers will play the Charlotte 49ers on March 12th and 13th at Felsberg field, looking to get their conference matchups underway and start off strong.

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