May 16, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Top-seeded Florida Atlantic scored two runs in the second inning and held on for a 2-1 victory to eliminate No. 2 seed Alabama on Thursday night in Game 4 of the Tallahassee Regional. The Crimson Tide concludes its season with a 46-21 record while the Lady Owls improve to 61-12 on the year and advance to Game 5 vs. Auburn on Friday at 3 p.m.
“It was a pretty tough game,” FAU Head Coach Joan Joyce said. “We hit the ball better in spots in the game, so I think we brought half our bats with us tonight. Maybe we’ll bring the whole pack of them tomorrow.”
After going hitless in Game 1, the Lady Owls got their bats going in the night cap, recording seven hits. FAU got on the board early, scoring two runs on two hits in the second inning. With two on and two out, starting pitcher Candice Freel singled to left field, driving in one run. Michelle Shirah followed with a base hit, scoring the second run. Both runs were unearned. Freel also did the job on the mound, allowing just one Alabama hit through six innings of work, but the Crimson Tide threatened in the seventh inning. FAU senior pitcher Nikki Myers entered the game after Freel walked the first batter.
“Candice did a great job pitching,” Joyce said. “She got hit on the finger, on a ball when she swung, so we brought in Nikki (Myers) to finish it up. She had no feeling in her finger, so she couldn’t grip the ball. But she was trying to be a trooper and finish it, which sometimes is not the right decision to make.”
Myers gave up back-to-back hits by Jackie McClain and Ashley Courtney, which scored one run. With runners on second and third, Courtney was called out on a fielder’s choice play for the first out and then Angela Johnson grounded out and Emily Currie struck out swinging to end the game.
“It was another tough loss,” Alabama Head Coach Patrick Murphy said. “The two runs were unearned, and we couldn’t come up with a key hit until the last inning and I thought we might do it again. We should have had bases loaded and no outs, and a young mistake, just being over-aggressive, but you can’t fault them for that. We just couldn’t come up with a key hit again.”
Freel earned her 26th victory of the year (26-5) while Myers picked up her fifth save of the season. Alabama starter Jennifer Wright, who pitched three and two-thirds innings, took the loss and finished the year 10-5.