BOCA RATON, Fla. - History was already made the moment the first pitch came across the plate Thursday afternoon in Boca Raton, but that just was not enough for head coach Marissa Young and the Duke Blue Devils. In the program's inaugural game, the Blue Devils took down Florida Atlantic, 4-3, to capture the team's first victory in as many games.
Duke used the first and third frames to post all the runs it would need and then fended off a late FAU rally thanks to some clutch defensive work to secure the program's first victory in its first time taking the field.
"The first win was a great one and one we won't forget," Young said. "It wasn't an easy one either. We had to hang in there and continue to battle. I was just proud of the way our kids competed today. We had some great at-bats and our pitching staff did a great job of getting us out of some jams."
Duke put the first runs in school history across in the opening frame, as a bases-clearing double from Amelia Wiercioch drove home Rachel Abboud and Raine Wilson. Wiercioch followed that with a three up, three down performance in the circle in the home half of the opening frame to set the tone for the day's first game.
A wild pitch from the Owls in the third would lead to two more runs coming home, as Abboud and Wilson beat throws to the plate to score and make it 4-0 Duke.
FAU would get one back in the third with an RBI single. A home run in the fifth and another in the sixth cut Duke's lead to one, but Katherine Huey slammed the door with a 1-2-3 seventh and secured Duke's first win in history. On the night, Huey struck out three in 4.0 innings of work to capture the win. Wiercioch earned the start and threw 3.0 innings in the circle, fanning three. Overall, Wiercioch recorded the program's first hit, double, run batted in and strikeout.
Dominique Salinas joined Wiercioch, Wilson and Abboud as the four Blue Devils to record a hit in the program's first contest to round out the stat sheet.
The night's second game featured a strong start for both sides, as Duke struck first with Jazmine Moreno scoring on a Raine Wilson single. FAU responded with two in the home half and another in the second to take a 3-1 lead.
The Blue Devils cut the lead to one thanks to a sac fly from Abboud in the fifth to drive home Jameson Kavel and a dominant pitching performance from Peyton St. George. The Mechanicsville, Va., native threw 4.1 innings, striking out six and retiring 14 of the 15 batters faced, including 12 straight to close out the night.
Duke put a rally together in the top of the seventh, as it put runners on second and third with two outs, but fell just short as FAU split the doubleheader with a 3-2 win.
"In game two we were right where we wanted to be at the end of it and I think if we play that game 10 times, we can get the outcome we want. It's all going to take time, but they are sticking with the process of attacking and being aggressive and being great competitors. Overall, just proud of how this team played today."
Duke returns to action Friday, Feb. 9 against Ohio State (1:30 p.m.) and Michigan State (3:45 p.m.) for day two of the FAU "First Pitch" Classic at the FAU Softball Stadium.
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Duke Softball Program Firsts
At-Bat: Jameson Kavel vs. Florida Atlantic (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Pitch: Amelia Wiercioch vs. Florida Atlantic (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Baserunner: Jameson Kavel (Walked, 1st Inning) vs. Florida Atlantic (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Hit: Amelia Wiercioch (Double, 1st Inning) vs. Florida Atlantic (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Single: Rachel Abboud (3rd Inning) vs. Florida Atlantic (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Double: Amelia Wiercioch (1st Inning) vs. Florida Atlantic (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Walk: Jameson Kavel (1st Inning) vs. Florida Atlantic (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Stolen Base: Dominique Salinas (2nd Inning) vs. Florida Atlantic (Game 2), Feb. 8, 2018
Run Scored: Raine Wilson (1st Inning, Amelia Wiercioch 2 RBI Double) vs. Florida Atlantic (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Run Batted In: Amelia Wiercioch (1st Inning) vs. Florida Atlantic (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Strikeout: Amelia Wiercioch (Strikeout Looking) vs. Florida Atlantic (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018
Win (Team): Feb. 8, 2018 vs. Florida Atlantic (Game 1)
Win (Individual): Katherine Huey vs. Florida Atlantic (Game 1), Feb. 8, 2018