Good pitching can shut down good pitching and on Thursday night, No. 9-ranked Florida Southern got good pitching from Megan Brown and defeated Kennesaw State 2-0 in the first game of the NCAA Division II National Championships at the Seminole County Softball Complex.
The No. 1-ranked Owls had a chance to get on the board early as they put runners on first and second base with two outs in the bottom of the first inning.
Freshman shortstop Jennifer Nolan (1-for-2) took a Brown fastball the opposite way for a single to right field. However, a strong throw by the Moccasins (52-6) Katie Gopert gunned down Keri McKee (0-for-2) at home plate to end the inning.
Kennesaw State starter Lisa Macki cruised through the first two innings and had the Mocs in control until the third inning when an error led to the game’s first run.
Gopert grounded a ball to shortstop that Nolan bobbled. After a stolen base and a groundout, Jes Shepherd (2-for-4) stroked a groundball in the hole at short to give FSC a 1-0 lead.
The Owls (64-5) had opportunities, leaving nine runners on base in the game. However no bigger chance came than in the bottom of the fifth inning when the Owls loaded the bases.
A one-out walk to Jen Hunt (0-for-2) started the rally and after Amy Middleton (1-for-2) singled to left field with two outs, Brown once again battled wildness and walked McKee to load the bases for All-American Cambria McKay. The Owls clutch-hitting catcher worked the count on Brown before striking out on a rise ball to end the Owls threat.
Brown, who walked a season high eight batters, struggled throughout the night but pitched well enough when necessary. A seven strikeout, two-hit performance raised her season record to 33-3.
The Owls left runners stranded in six out of seven innings and just could not come up with the big hit.
Macki pitched five and one-thirds innings and allowed one earned run on just four hits as she lost for only the second time this season. Janet Kearns came into relief in the sixth inning and held the Moccasins hitless.
Kearns entered the game in the top of the sixth inning with the bases loaded and got Whitney Bartlett (0-for-3) to line to second baseman Lori Cassell for an inning ending double play.
The Owls will now play in an elimination game at 1:30 PM against No. 2-ranked Shippensburg (PA).