Santiago Archieri/ Staff Writer
The softball team packed their bags and set on their way to their first road games against Conference USA opponents this season.
On Saturday, March 19, FIU was set for a double-header against the Lady Toppers of Western Kentucky, a team that was playing their first conference matchups of the season.
The first two innings were defensive battles as neither team was able to get on the scoreboard. However, Western Kentucky got off their slump on quite a note, as a two-run third inning sparked a fire in the Hilltopper bats and they went on to score in every inning afterwards en route to 10-2 victory.
The first two Lady Topper runs were off FIU errors, who committed three for the game. Two home runs by Jordan Mauch was just part of the problem that FIU had to face because the Lady Toppers had four total home runs for the entire game. The loss was the first conference defeat for FIU in the season, dropping to 3-1.
Corrine Jenkins (4-5) dropped back under the .500 mark for the season after pitching 3.1 innings, allowing six hits, three earned runs, two walks and a lone strikeout.
The Panthers had to regain their composure for the second game of the double-header and it came right down to the wire.
FIU was down 2-0 heading into the final inning of play, but five hits and four runs gave the Panthers a 4-2 lead.
Gaby Spallone hit a two-RBI single to give FIU their first lead of the game and Dani Mowry provided some cushion with an RBI single of her own.
However, the Lady toppers would match the FIU comeback. The Panthers have had a problem all season long thus far allowing unearned runs to cross home plate and it was a fitting way for the game to come to an end.
Rachel Dwyer (2-2) took the loss, although she faced only one batter as a reliever and committed a walk. Megan Kugelmann allowed three runs in six innings on the mound, with two strikeouts and two walks.
On Sunday, March 20, the Panthers had one last game in Bowling Green against the Lady toppers. After averaging three runs in the first two games, FIU burst out with a 16-7 win over Western Kentucky to close the series. The win marks the Panthers first conference road victory of the season.
The game got off to a hot start for FIU as they recorded six runs in the opening inning. Stephanie Texeira recorded the first RBI’s of the game with her single. The Panthers added some runs with a combined nine runs in the third and fourth inning. The 16 runs by FIU matches a season high and is the most since the 16-9 win over UAB in April of 2015.
Jackie Schoff had three runs for the Panthers while Ashley Leon batted in three. A.J Belans also had a great day, going 2-2 with four runs and two RBI’s.
The win went to Megan Kugelmann. The freshman is now 6-2 for the season, finishing the game with just two earned runs.
The win also put FIU at 18-14 for the season and 4-2 in Conference USA. Their next task will be at home, where the Panthers are undefeated in conference play, as they take on the UTEP Miners Friday, March 25, for a double header and Saturday, March 26.