Eastern Florida State Hands Indian River First Conference Softball Defeat 3-2
By Mark DeCotis, Eastern Florida // April 13, 2016
BREVARD COUNTY • PALM BAY, FLORIDA – Karli Smith smiled. Brightly.
After all the freshman, who had come to Eastern Florida’s softball team as a pitcher and blossomed into the team’s best hitter, pitched a complete-game four-hitter to lift the Titans past Indian River State College 3-2 on Tuesday night.
The defeat was the first for Indian River in the FCSAA Southern Conference this season, dropping the first-place Pioneers to 17-1.
The second-place Titans improved to 10-8 in conference and 22-24 overall. Indian River dropped to 38-7.
The second-game victory avenged a 9-1 Indian River triumph in the first game, the only one in five match ups between the teams this season that was not decided by one run.
The victory also closed out the Titans home field on the Palm Bay Campus since a new complex is being built on the Melbourne Campus.
“It was a big game, definitely,” said Smith who drove in the Titans first run in the second game with a first inning single.
“It’s the last home game on this field, it’s the last home game for our sophomores and they (Indian River) hadn’t lost a game in conference. It’s a big game.
“It was a great game. My defense got me, they had me all season, they’re going to have me now even more.”
Smith improved her pitching record to 3-6, recorded her 41st and 42nd hits and her 40th run batted in.
The Titans held the 1-0 lead into the fifth inning when Indian River went ahead 2-1 on a walk, two errors and a hit.
But the Titans rallied in the bottom of the fifth as sophomores Taylor Zitiello, who singled, and Mackenzie Soughers, who walked, scored. Soughers came home on a passed ball.
“It was an excellent way to say goodbye to the field,” said Eastern Florida assistant coach Bob Yanczewski.
“It’s fantastic. This makes it right here.
“They know they can play with a team like this, we’ve proven it. We had a hiccup in the first game. Our pitcher ran out of gas in the seventh inning” when Indian River scored six runs.
“We’re happy to get out of here with the split. They did a phenomenal job. Karli hasn’t pitched a whole lot for us this year. Her face, it was well worth watching her. It’s great to go out like this.”
The Titans also managed just four hits in the second game and four in the first game. Indian River has 12 hits in the opener.
The Titans have clinched their 12th straight appearance in the NJCAA District/FCSAA Tournament and are fighting to keep their second spot.
They hold the tiebreaker over third-place Miami Dade College should the teams end up with identical records but fourth-place Palm Beach State holds the tiebreaker over the Titans.
The top four conference finishers advance to the postseason.
The Titans wrap up the conference season on Friday with a doubleheader at Broward College in Davie and then play non-conference games at St. Johns River and Seminole State before the April 29-May 1 NJCAA District/FCSAA Tournament at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach.