MIAMI (May 5, 2012) - The FIU softball team closed out the regular season with a 2-0 win over Sun Belt Conference foe Florida Atlantic on Saturday night at the FIU Softball Complex. With the win, the Panthers improve to 27-25 (15-9 SBC) while the Owls fall to 15-37 (5-18 SBC).
After a hitless first inning, Gniadek posted back-to-back strikeouts before a single, a double and a walk loaded the bases for FAU. On a 3-2 count, Grabiak threw to first for the final out of the half-inning to get FIU out of the jam.
The Owls picked up their third hit of the game with a one-out single to left field in the top of the fourth, but Gniadek registered two more K's to end the half-inning. In the bottom half of the stanza, McClain tallied FIU's first hit of the game with a two-out single and junior Brie Rojas reached first on an FAU throwing error, but a strikeout left the runners stranded.
In the bottom of the fifth, freshman Shelby Graves posted the Panthers' second hit of the contest with a lead-off single and advanced to second on an Owl throwing error. Graves advanced to third on a put-out at first and Welch drew a two-out walk to put runners on the corners for the Panthers. However, a groundout ended the inning.
Gniadek notched back-to-back strikeouts in the top of the sixth before FAU connected for a single to left centerfield for its fourth hit of the game. A Panther error would then put runners on the corners for the Owls, but Grabiak came up with the final out of the inning.
The bottom of the sixth saw junior Kayla Burri lead off with a single before McClain connected for her eighth home run of the season to give FIU a 2-0 advantage. Graves singled in the inning, but FAU came up with out number three to send the game into the seventh inning. In the top of the seventh, Gniadek picked up her 11th strikeout of the contest to set a career-high as the FIU defense put together a 1-2-3 inning to end the game and come away with a 2-0 victory.
On a career night, Gniadek went the distance for the Panthers, improving to 8-10 on the season, as the senior gave up four hits and two walks. For FAU, Stephanie Call took the loss, falling to 1-8 on the year after giving up five hits and two runs in a complete-game effort.
McClain led the FIU offense with two hits, two RBI and one run, while Graves also went 2-for-3 on the night. Junior Megan Horne scored the Panthers' second run, pinch running for Welch on McClain's homer.
The Panthers will return to action next week as the No. 3 seed for the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Championship, held May 9-12 at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla. Stay tuned to FIUSports.com for more information.
About FIU Athletics: FIU Athletics is home to more than 400 student-athletes in 18 different sports, and is a proud member of the Sun Belt Conference and an affiliate member of Conference USA (men's soccer). Athletic events are played in seven different venues on FIU's campuses (Modesto A. Maidique and Biscayne Bay), including U.S. Century Bank Arena and Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium.
About FIU: Florida International University is recognized as a Carnegie engaged university. Its colleges and schools offer more than 180 bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs in fields such as engineering, international relations, architecture, law and medicine. As one of South Florida's anchor institutions, FIU is worlds ahead in its local and global engagement, finding solutions to the most challenging problems of our time. FIU emphasizes research as a major component of its mission and enrolls nearly 48,000 students in two campuses and three centers including FIU Downtown on Brickell and the Miami Beach Urban Studios. More than 140,000 alumni live and work in South Florida. FIU is a member of the Sun Belt Conference and has 400 student-athletes participating in 18 sports. For more information about FIU, visit http://www.fiu.edu/.
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