Miami, Fla.- Charlotte 49ers softball team fought late but came up short in the series finale against the FIU Panthers on Sunday afternoon. The Niners fell 5-3 after falling behind early 4-0.
"We had a good come back but our early play was just too inconsistent. We get back to work at practice this week and we will prepare for ECU next weekend," said Coach Aimee DeVos.
FIU (16-7, 2-1 C-USA) jumped on the board in the bottom of the first inning plating two runs off two Niner errors. A walk started the inning for the Panthers. A throwing error and a fielding error allowed two runs to come across for an early 2-0 Panther lead.
The Panthers struck again in the bottom of the third inning for two more runs. Stephanie Texeira singled up the middle to start off the frame. A walk and a sacrifice bunt put runners into scoring position at second and third. After two quick outs, Shelby Graves singled to right field pushing across two runs on the play for a FIU 4-0 lead.
Charlotte (9-10, 1-2 C-USA) cracked the scoreboard in the top of the fourth inning cutting into the deficit. Jessica Plemmons started the inning with a base hit to center field. Jessie Fennell followed suit with a single through the left side of the infield. Courtney Carroll drove in the first run for the Niners with two outs taking a 1-1 pitch into right field.
FIU continued to attack the 49ers in the bottom of the fourth inning. Lexi Betancourt shut the door in the inning after giving up back-to-back hits to open the inning. A walk loaded the bases for the Panthers with one out. Charlotte caught a break after a sure base hit through the right side of the infield made contact with the base runner for the second out. Betancourt finished the inning with a punch out to keep the deficit at a manageable 4-1 and without allowing a run to score in the inning.
Charlotte started a rally in the top of the sixth inning cutting into the deficit. Jessica Plemmons started the rally with a single into right field. Chelsea Lisikatos sent a towering shot over the centerfield wall for her third home run of the season and a 4-3 deficit. Carroll kept the rally going with a double into the right center gap. Hayley Lewis moves Carroll to third on the infield single but left stranded.
The Panthers tacked on the final run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. FIU’s Bre Kaye sent a rocket towards shortstop for an infield single to start the attack. Nicole Rascon brought Kaye around to score with a double into the right center gap for a 5-3 lead.
The Niners started a rally in the top of the seventh inning but came up empty. Jackie Kleinsmith led off the inning with a walk. Jessica Plemmons reached on a throwing error by the pitcher allowing Kleinsmith to move to second. Lisikatos roped one down to the right side of the infield but snagged at first base to end the game.
The Niners struggled in the field committing three errors. Two errors led to two Panthers runs in the first inning. Lexi Betancourt (8-5) picked up the loss tossing six innings allowing five runs (three earned) off eight hits. FIU’s starter Shelby Graves picked up the win allowing three runs off seven hits through five innings. Corinne Jenkins tossed the final two innings allowing two hits.
Charlotte will return home to host Conference USA and in-state rival East Carolina next weekend, March 15-16 in a three game series. Doubleheader scheduled for Saturday at 12 pm and 2 pm.