Panthers avoid second straight conference sweep

Santiago Archieri/ Staff Writer

The Florida International University softball team was on the brink of being swept for the third time in their last four series’, but Stephanie Texeira and A.J. Belans had other plans.

Texeira and Belans avoided being swept by University of Alabama at Birmingham on Sunday, April 17, as they both provided home runs for the Panthers in the 11-3 win. The duo has now hit home runs in the same game four times this season.

It wasn’t all happy tales for the Panthers in the weekend, as they got off to a rough start in the first two games. The series started on Saturday, April 16th with a double header. The first game of the night went down to the wire, but it was UAB who came out on top in extra innings.

It was a defensive battle up until the fifth inning, when FIU was the first team to be up on the scoreboard. Dani Mowry hit a rocket to right field, good enough for a single, but also bringing in Ashley Leon. The Panthers took the lead, but UAB tied it up at 1-1 in the sixth.

The Blazers hit a walk off home run in the eighth inning to end the first game 3-1. Abby Summers took the loss dropping to 8-7 in the season after the game.

The Panthers got off to a hot start as Texeira hit a home run in the first inning, but five earned runs for the Blazers in the bottom of the first put them in a 5-1 hole and it wouldn’t get better for FIU after that.

Corrine Jenkins was scratched from the game after two innings, and Rachel Dwyer was able to tame the Blazers for a while. Dwyer allowed just two hits in 2.2 innings, but the game came to an end in the fifth inning by the run rule, with UAB coming out on top 9-1.

Jenkins dropped to 5-8 with the loss, totaling six runs on six hits. The loss was the Panthers sixth in seven games, and fifth straight against Conference USA opponents.

The series came to a close on Sunday, and FIU woke up at the right time. The Panthers managed to get 14 hits in an 11-3 win on the road.

Belans was able to knock her eighth home run of the season, and Texeira hit her team-leading 12th home run of the season, which is also her career high for most home runs in a season.

Texeira keeps climbing the FIU record books. She has 31 home runs in her collegiate career, currently second in FIU history. She is also currently fifth for most home runs in a season, and second for most RBI’s in FIU history with 131.

The Panthers are now 23-23 overall for the season and 8-10 in Conference USA. The Panthers have a small break from Conference USA action, now traveling to play Florida Gulf Coast University on April 23rd-24th. Their next Conference USA game will be on April 30th against Marshall, who is currently last on the East division of the Conference USA standings. With six games left against Conference USA opponents, the Panthers have no room for error left if they want to make the post-season tournament.

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