Softball sets sights for winning record against Liberty

The FIU softball team gathered together in a huddle. Photo courtesy of FIU Athletics.

Brian Olmo | Investigative Director

The FIU softball team hopes to march back into the win column in a three-game series against Liberty Flames, beginning on Friday, March 8, 2024 in Miami, Florida. 

Entering their first Conference USA matchup of the season, the Panthers bolster an 11-12 season record. In their previous game against the UIC Flames on Sunday, March 3, they took a narrow 3-1 loss after they allowed a large initial lead. 

Through the first three innings, FIU sacrificed a 3-0 lead and struggled to make an offensive response. Despite holding UIC scoreless through the final four innings, their early lead proved to be too large to overcome. 

In an attempt of a seventh inning comeback, junior infielder Jianna Simonet scored after freshman infielder Zamya McBurrows’ hit was grounded into a double-play. Although the score cut the lead to 3-1, their efforts came too little and too late.

Due to their lack of offensive production, the Panthers lost the game and had their season record drop below the .500-marker. Looking to bounce back, their next matchup against Liberty provides them with the opportunity to redeem their previous outing.

Coming into this matchup, the Flames are in a similar situation and hold a 9-10 record this season. In their previous game against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns on Sunday, March 3, they closed out the series with a resounding 7-1 win.

Extinguishing Liberty’s offense will be the difference between a sunburn and third-degree burns.

Junior outfielder Rachel Roupe has acted as the  linchpin of the Flames’ offense throughout the entire season. Following her Atlantic Sun All-Conference first team campaign in 2023, she leads the team in RBIs, home runs and on-base plus slugging percentage. 

Roupe has been on a tear this season with six home runs and 15-RBIs. Her slugging percentage is .911%, best in C-USA by a wide margin. The second-highest percentage belongs to Western Kentucky’s Taylor Sanders at .754%.

If FIU wants to stay competitive in this matchup, they must keep Roupe at bay. However, they do hold a higher overall batting average than the Flames, so matching their offensive output shouldn’t be a problem.

When it comes to pitching, the Panthers also hold an advantage, as they hold a lower earned run average (3.73) than Liberty (4.26). This means FIU gives up fewer runs per inning pitched. 

The question that remains now is what approach is taken by head coach Mike Larabee.

Do you fight fire with fire, engaging in an offensive fisticuffs? Do you play it slow, try to deprive the flame of oxygen with a suffocating pitching performance and then strike? 

Hoping to find their way back into the win column, the FIU softball team is taking on the Liberty Flames in a three game series, beginning on Friday, March 8, 2024.

First pitch is set for 6 p.m. at Felsberg Field in Miami, Florida and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.

Follow Brian Olmo on Twitter at @Brian_Olmo11  

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