FIU softball falters on the road, losing series to Charlotte

Senior Madison Lewis for FIU (right) and freshman Lena Elkins for Charlotte (left). Photos courtesy of FIU and Charlotte Athletics.

Brian Olmo | Sports Director 

FIU softball falls 2-1 in its three-game series against the Charlotte 49ers on March 11 at Sue M. Daughtridge Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. 

Game 1 of the series started with the Panthers grabbing an early 5-3 lead through runs in each of the first three innings. Freshman Isabella Perez recorded an RBI with a double in the first to plate sophomore Ashton Lansdell to put FIU up 1-0.

After Charlotte retook the lead 2-1 with a pair of runs, the Panthers rattled off three runs in the bottom of the second, courtesy of Perez and senior Frankie Izard, to make the score 4-2. 

Senior Madison Lewis would soon after plate junior Abigail Brown to give FIU a solid 5-3 lead. 

But Charlotte, not done fighting, kept its foot on the gas pedal and began to orchestrate the comeback. 

Lexi Winters sparked it with a two-run homer to knot up the score 5-5. The 49ers seized the lead for the rest of the game in the fourth inning, off a pair of runs scored on a Perez error. 

Charlotte would extend its advantage to 8-5 and win the first game of the series.

Game 2 was a complete disaster for FIU, as the team failed to score once in an 8-0 blowout. 

The first inning was slow for both teams. But right after, in the second inning, Charlotte exploded for five runs. Cori Hoffler gave the 49ers their first run of the game with a homer to left center field. 

An Ella Chancey single and Savanna Nguyen double put the team in prime scoring position, which was converted by Lexi Wagner, 5-0. 

With bases loaded, Madelyn Wright sent one right through the middle, driving in two runs and sealing the win for Charlotte, 8-0.

Lena Elkins put on a pitching masterclass, wreaking havoc on Panther batters, striking out six and allowing just two hits on 64 pitches. The Niners as a team hit three home runs. 

After losing the first two games, the Panthers fought hard not to get swept in Game 3. 

Like the game before, things were sluggish in the first inning. Freshman Ella Whitney hit a single to bring Brown home, pushing the Panthers up 1-0. 

The 49ers countered, taking a 3-1 edge in the bottom of the fifth off a three-run hit by Kassidy Krupit.

Remembering what happened in Game 1, FIU decided to give it a try and started to push for their own comeback win.

It started with Whitney, who drove in freshman Kaleena Downing in the sixth to get the Panthers in striking distance, 3-2. 

Then, with the weight of this game on her shoulders, Lewis smashed a two-run homer over left field at the top of the seventh inning to give FIU a 4-3 lead. She would come back later to drive in her third run of the game off a single, giving the Panthers the win in the series finale, 5-3.

Freshman Brooke McNichols notched her second complete game of the season, only allowing Charlotte two hits and three runs over seven innings.

The team now heads back home to face LA Tech at the Felsberg Field on Friday, March 17. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. and all games can be watched at C-USA Tv. 

Follow Brian Olmo on Twitter at @Brian_Olmo11

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