Softball earns two wins to start Panhandle Invitational
Freshman Victoria Brown
Freshman Victoria Brown
The Jacksonville University softball team opened the 2013 season on a good note with wins against Bethune-Cookman, 2-0, and Florida A&M, 5-2, Saturday at the Panhandle Invitational.

The Dolphins (2-0) took down the Wildcats (0-2) in game one behind a complete-game shutout from freshman Victoria Brown. Junior Codi Kelly had two RBI against the Lady Rattlers’ (0-2) to set up the second win.

“This was a good start to the season,” JU head coach Ali Higgs said. “We made some first day mistakes, but I was proud of the way we worked through them for two wins. Tomorrow will be a tough day so we will need to be ready for both games.”

Brown (1-0) earned the Wildcats’ win after fanning seven and scattering four hits in seven innings for the shutout. Against Florida A&M, senior Dale Tillman (1-0) struck four batters and allowed two unearned runs on five hits in seven innings to earn the win.

Offensively, freshman Sable Lee went 3-for-4 with an RBI in two games to lead JU. Brown, junior Jacey Warner and sophomore Ashley Simon all finished with multiple hits. Freshman Emily Sanchez also had an RBI each contest.

Against B-CU, Brown led off the first inning for JU with her first collegiate hit before stealing second in the next at-bat. Kelly advanced Brown to third on a groundout, while Warner was hit by a pitch in the next at-bat. Sanchez scored Brown on a single to right field to give JU a 1-0 lead.

The Wildcats would test Brown’s resolve in the circle in the bottom of the first inning.

Calesha Shelley led off with a bunt single and moved to second in the next at-bat on a sacrifice bunt. Simone Ceasar advanced Shelley to third with a single and Michelle Banuelos-Smith was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Brown induced a fly out and struck out Melissa Berouty looking to end the threat.

With two outs in the fourth inning, sophomore Jackie DiPiazza reached a throwing error by the short stop. She stole second before freshman Sable Lee plated with her first collegiate hit for the 2-0 advantage.

Brown sat down six straight hitters after the rocky first inning before a Banuelos-Smith double broke it up to start the fourth inning. Kelsey Rodney walked in the next at-bat, but Brown got a fly out and struck the next two batters looking to halt the scoring threat. She allowed one more hit over the next three innings to lock down the win for JU.

Shanel Tolbert (0-2) took her second loss of the day after allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits in 5.1 innings. Samantha Gale allowed two hits in 1.2 innings of relief.

Trailing 2-1 to Florida A&M in the third inning, Brown led off with a single and stole second. Kelly followed with a triple to left field to score Brown and tie the game. FAMU starter and eventual pitcher Ashleigh Minter retired the next three batters to strand Kelly at third.

Tillman ran into a little trouble in the fifth inning when she allowed a leadoff walk to Christina Robbs and a bunt single to Ashanti Sheppard. The Dolphins defense helped Tillman out in the next at-bat as the Lady Rattlers flew into a triple play to end the inning.

Lee carried the momentum into the bottom of the inning when she led off the JU fifth with a single and advanced to second on an error. Lee moved to third on a wild pitch before Kelly scored her on a fielder’s choice bunt. Kelly stole second and moved to third on a single by Warner. In the next at-bat, Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Kelly for the 4-2 lead.

Simon had an RBI sacrifice fly for JU in the sixth inning, while Tillman stranded a runner at third in the seventh inning to secure the win.

Minter (0-1) allowed five runs, four earned, on seven hits in six innings for the loss.

The Dolphins grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second after Brown scored on an error. The Lady Rattlers benefitted from JU error in the second inning to set up its two runs.

The Dolphins wrap the tourney tomorrow against Florida A&M and host Florida State starting at 3 p.m.