By Richelieu Valery
The Panthers brought out the brooms over the weekend, sweeping the UTSA Road Runners in a three-game series starting March 31 at Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium.
In the bottom of the first, FIU was able to capitalize on a throwing error that allowed freshman Isabella Perez, who doubled to center earlier at-bat, to score and tie the game 1-1.
Freshman Makayla Navarro, who is top-five in Conference USA in stolen bases this season, was able to add to her total, stealing to second after coming in as a pinch runner. On the next pitch, Navarro scored on a dropped pop-up, pushing the lead to 3-1 and solidifying a win for the Panthers.
Game 2 started out the same way as the first, as UTSA got on the board early after junior Taylor Jensen blasted a triple to left center, recording an RBI and plating Ibarra, 1-0.
But just as in the first game, FIU was the only team to score for the rest of the afternoon.
The Panthers started the onslaught in the bottom of the second when they loaded the bases with Perez, freshman Ella Whitney and senior Madison Lewis. All three basemen were able to score, putting FIU up 3-1.
FIU wasn’t done there. Sophomore Ashton Lansdell singled to the right to bring in freshman Kaleena Downing and McCann, extending the Panthers’ lead to 5-1. Lansdell, who has been sly on base, added to her tally by stealing second which puts her second in stolen bases in the conference.
Carmen Perez came back to bat to crank a two-run double down the center to plate Lansdell and Isabella Perez to end the inning, leaving the Panthers up 7-1.
A 7-1 lead wasn’t enough for the Panthers as they scored two more times from a Downing RBI in the bottom of the fourth, bringing home sophomore Hanna Johanning.
Whitney would record her own RBI, plating Carmen Perez in the bottom of the fourth and sealing the win for FIU.
In the series finale, it was all but the same as the Panthers routed UTSA 7-1 to put the final nail in the coffin for this series matchup.
The first inning saw UTSA start as they did in the previous two games, scoring in quick fashion with sophomore Camryn Robilard delivering a sacrifice fly to bring in Ibarra, 1-0.
From there on out it was the Panthers’ show, starting out with senior Frankie Izard scoring after being walked at bat. Izard stole second and was able to turn that stolen base into a score with the help of the Roadrunners, tying the game 1-1.
After the score, FIU loaded the bases with three straight singles from Isabella Perez, Lansdell and Carmen Perez.
Whitney’s RBI plated Perez, then an RBI groundout from Lewis allowed Lansdell to score. A sacrifice fly from Navarro would bring in Carmen Perez, ending the first inning with the Panthers up 4-1.
After a strong first inning from the Panthers, it became a sluggish game for both teams until the bottom of the fourth, when Navarro and McCann were both able to steal second after getting on first.
With Navarro on third and McCann on second, Izzard plates Navarro before stealing for second herself, and with an error by UTSA, McCann walks in for a score, ending the fourth 6-1.
Panthers finished their sweep of the Roadrunners when Navarro flew out to infield, bringing home Johanning, 7-1.
The team will now be facing their in-state rival, the FAU Owls, at the FAU Softball Field on Thursday, April 6.
First pitch is set for 6 p.m. and all games can be watched on C-USA Tv.
Follow Richelieu Valery on Twitter @RichelieuWrites