For a team that has endured its share of bad luck the No. 13 proved to be lucky for Florida Gulf Coast.
With two outs in the seventh inning the Eagles Tori Williams walked. Kelsey Carpenter then slammed a walk-off home run over the fence in right center to give the Eagles a 6-4 win over Kennesaw State.
The victory Thursday afternoon at Draper Diamond on the Lipscomb University campus eliminated Kennesaw State, the No. 5 seed, from the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship.
It was the 13th time this season that the Eagles have won with a walk-off hit.
“This is the way we have been playing all year long and especially since the middle of March,” Eagles coach David Deiros said. “All in all it is a testimony to how well our kids are able to handle pressure and how resilient they have been all season long.”
Carpenter has won three games for the Eagles in walk-off situations with walk-offs against Stetson and USC Upstate.
“This is obviously the best one I have had,” Carpenter said. “I knew I hit it well but I wasn’t sure it was a home run."
“I knew if I didn’t do it someone else was going to do it for us. I didn’t feel any pressure. I just wanted to hit the ball hard.”
Deiros was confident that either Carpenter or Mariah Fernandez would find a way to score runs in the seventh.
“Kelsey is pretty impervious to pressure situations,” Deiros said. “If we got one base runner on I felt really good about our chances with Carpenter and Fernandez coming up.”
The Eagles, the defending tournament champions and the No. 3 seed, lost to No. 6-seeded Stetson 14-6 Wednesday afternoon.
“That’s the way tournament ball is,” Deiros said. “Sometimes the breaks go against you. Sometimes it feels like the world is crashing down on you.
“It had been really difficult the last couple of days because nothing had been going our way. The kids have done a nice job of not letting it bother them. They were able to fight off Kennesaw’s run.”
Earlier this season they lost Shelby Morgan, the A-Sun Preseason Pitcher of the Year; and Chelsea Zgrabik, the Preseason Player of the Year.
Deiros doesn’t expect anyone to feel sorry for his team’s injury issues.
“Our mantra since about half-way through the season when we lost Shelby has been `the next woman up’,” Deiros said. “Our kids have battled back that way.
“The last time I checked nobody in the A-Sun is going to spot us some runs early and feel bad for us. They do feel bad for us and shake our hands, but they are going to expect us to fight. That is what our kids are going to do.”
It win over the Owls was a power fest for the Eagles. They scored the first run of the game on a home run by Jessica Barnes down the left field line in the first inning. In the third Brittney Garabedian blasted a three-run shot over the left center field fence.
“We have a ton of power on this team,” Carpenter said. “One through nine everyone can hit a home run. That has really been a key for us this year.
“The number of walk-off wins shows the heart of the team and our character. We never give up.”