MACON, Ga. (School Release) - The Mercer softball team failed to overcome a nine-run fifth inning in Sunday's series finale against Florida Gulf Coast as the Eagles walked away with the series win, 15-7.
The fifteen runs were the most given up by the Bears (22-23, 10-8 A-Sun) all season and all nine of FGCU's(26-13, 7-4 A-Sun) runs in the fifth inning came with two outs. The fifth inning proved to be the difference as the Bears could not recover in a game that saw 25 combined hits.
Mercer starting pitcher Julia Rice had a solid game going through four innings as the teams were knotted up at two runs apiece. Mercer broke out to a 1-0 lead in the first when junior McKenzie Woody scored off a sacrifice fly off the bat of Krista Kennedy. Kennedy's RBI was one of three for her on the day and she now leads the team with 49 on the year.
FGCU took the lead in the third scoring two runs off two hits, including a Tori Williams' RBI triple down the right field line. Williams was brought home two batters later off a fielder's choice bunt to give the Eagles a 2-1 lead.
Mercer countered with the game-tying run in the fourth as Ashton Holt guided a single through the right side to score Sarah Santana.
Rice, who had allowed just four hits through the first four innings, seemed to be in control as she retired the first two batters of the fifth in order. However, things would spiral out of control in a hurry for Rice as she issued three walks, four hits and five runs to the next seven FGCU batters to give the Eagles the commanding 7-2 lead.
At that point Rice was pulled and Rachel Hugghins came in, but she too couldn't find her way out of the inning. FGCU's next batter, Jessica Barnes took Hugghins deep to left field for a three-run home run to extend the lead to 10-2. An RBI single by FGCU's Emily Lanier would be the final run of the inning as the Eagles batted around to produce the nine runs off seven hits in the fifth.
The Bears showed a little determination in their half of the fifth, scoring two runs to keep the game going and hopes alive. A McKenzie Woody triple scored Marissa Botz and a Kaytlin Haney RBI groundout made the score 11-4 after five.
A Mercer run in the sixth made the score 11-5 as Krista Kennedy nailed a solo homerun to straight away center for her 11th of the campaign.
Florida Gulf again extended its lead in the seventh as Chelsea Zgrabik hit her second homerun of the series, this time a three-run blast to left to give the Eagles a 14-7 lead. A final sacrifice fly to center gave FGCU its final, but the damage had been done as the Bears plated just two runs in their half of the seventh to end the game.
Natalie Shiver continued her impressive series by lining her second career homerun and second in as many days to lead off the seventh. Four hits in the inning, including Kennedy's final RBI double were not enough as the Bears fall to 10-8 in conference play.
Mercer finishes out its non-conference portion of it schedule this Wednesday as Georgia Tech heads to Sikes Field for a 6 p.m. matchup. The Bears won the first meeting between the two Georgia schools 10-9 back on February 20.