Florida Tech Panthers Headed To Regional Title Game, Thanks To Godfrey’s Walk-Off Single
By Florida Tech // May 10, 2015
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – In her two years in a Florida Tech uniform Brigit Godfrey has delivered some pretty crucial hits. None compare to the two RBI single the senior pushed into right field Saturday afternoon, sending the Panthers to the NCAA Regional Championship Game with a 2-1 defeat of Rollins.
“We had a little meeting before Brigit’s at bat, considering what to do with that play,” said head coach Val Silvestrini. “She said she wanted to hit, we trusted her and she delivered.”
For much of the game the two sides were deadlocked in a scoreless tie as both Rachel Pence and Niki Fogle had all of their stuff working in the circle.
That being said, the Panthers had their chances to score throughout the contest, putting a runner in scoring position in the first, second, third and sixth innings.
FIT’s best opportunity came in the opening frame, when Godfrey rocketed a double into the gap in right-center.
Elaine Brown was nearly able to leg out an infield single but even with the out Godfrey ended up on third with one away.
With the meat of the Panthers’ lineup coming up, Fogle reached back and fanned Nicole Miller and Taylor Peterson for a pair of strikeouts.
Pence also had to pitch her way out of some trouble in the first inning. Tar second baseman Brittany Johnson and left fielder Courtney Durbin hit back-to-back one out singles to put runners at first and second. The threat was halted during the next at bat as Jule Kranz lined out to Godfrey, who doubled off Johnson for an unassisted double play.
The Panthers got themselves into a little bit of trouble in the sixth.
National player of the year finalist Hailee Keisling popped a double that just stayed within the left field foul line. Peterson’s throw on the ensuing sacrifice bunt by Johnson forced Sarah Hayes, who replaced an injured Elizabeth Eby at second early in the game, to come off the bag.
With runners at the corners, Durbin’s bloop to left was just out of the reach of Jessica Callahan, scoring the game’s first run. With the game hanging delicately in the balance, Taylor Smith came on in relief and immediately fielded a suicide squeeze bunt, flipping the ball to Nicole Shinsky to get the runner at home. Smith followed with a swinging strikeout and a groundout to Godfrey at short to keep the damage to a minimum.
With the majority of this season’s games being tightly contested, the Panthers didn’t bat an eye at the pressure.
Pinch hitter Audrey Gangloff led off the seventh with a looping double in between the left fielder and the retreating shortstop.
Callahan then worked a walk to put two runners on for the Panthers. Kaci Kelley pinch hit and layed down a perfect sacrifice that couldn’t have gone further than a foot from home plate.
That’s when the shortstop from Atascadero, California stepped into the box and took a Fogle offering the opposite way into right. The play at the plate was close but the slide by Jessica Callahan evaded the tag and sealed the victory for FIT.
Smith earned her 12th win of her season, first of her postseason career. The graduate student tossed two innings without giving up a hit. Pence took the no decision, finishing with an impressive five innings pitched with one earned run allowed.
The visibly elated Silvestrini gave a great deal of credit for the win to the players who weren’t in the opening lineup.
“Like I said yesterday, this is the postseason and all of the games are going to be this way,” said Coach Val Silvestrini.
“This is the most exciting game that I have ever coached. To come from behind, everyone contributed to this win. From the bench we had a lot of execution. Eby came out with an injury and Sarah came right in making great plays at second base, which she hasn’t played for a couple of months. Audrey came in with a double to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning. Kaci came in and executed the perfect bunt. Everyone did their job.”
“It was a great game, all seven innings,” she continued.
“Our pitchers are such a great staff. When we needed groundouts and Taylor came right in and shut them down, that was unbelievable. These kids make us look like geniuses. We made changes and they executed. This was a great team effort, we’re all extremely excited,” said Silvestrini.
The Panthers will play No. 19 North Alabama at 2 p.m. ET. on Sunday, with a second game following at 4:30 p.m., if necessary.
FIT needs just one win to claim the championship, while the Lions will have to defeat the Panthers twice.
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