MIAMI, Fla. – The Rutgers softball team dropped a tight 2-1 decision to Florida International University on Tuesday night at the FIU Softball Stadium. The Golden Panthers' Monique White hit a solo homer in the bottom of the third to lift FIU to the win.
The Scarlet Knights (4-13) were led by junior Shantai Dixon (Sayreville, N.J.) who doubled in the third and then scored off of sophomore Brittany Loisel's (Gilbert, Ariz.) RBI single. Junior Mallory Miller (Anaheim, Calif.) and sophomore Sarah Kalka (Moreno Valley, Calif.) both collected hits for Rutgers. Kalka pinch hit in the top of the seventh and drilled a double to put the tying run on with two outs, but Penny Eastman tallied her sixth strikeout to end the game.
Freshman Nicole Lindley (Cicero, N.Y.) got the start for RU, pitching two innings and allowing two hits, while striking out one batter. She allowed one earned run in just her second collegiate start. Sophomore Chrissy Yard (Hillsborough, N.J.) came in to pitch relief, throwing six innings, including two strikeouts and just one walk. She allowed four hits and took the loss for the Scarlet Knights.
The Golden Panthers took an early 1-0 lead when Tabith Embry hit an RBI single up the middle, scoring Deomni Murray. With the bases loaded, freshman Nicole Lindley (Cicero, N.Y.) forced Ashley Falk to fly out to Amanda Shaw (Yorba Linda, Calif.) in center field.
After the Scarlet Knights went three-and-out for the second-straight inning, Lindley tallied her first strikeout en route to holding FIU scoreless in the second.
Dixon collected Rutgers' first hit of the game with a double with two out in the third inning. Loisel came up and got a hit to left field, scoring Dixon to the tie the game and advancing to second when Falk attempted to throw Dixon out at home. Shaw drilled a shot to left field, but Falk came up with the grab to end the inning.
In the bottom of the third inning, FIU's White drilled her third home run of the year over the left field wall, a solo shot that put the Golden Panthers in front, 2-1. Yard responded with a strikeout against Kim Rodriguez and the Scarlet Knights ended the inning when Amanda Cox popped out to Loisel at second.
Miller hit a single to centerfield with two out in the top of the fourth, but Lindley lined out to third base on RU's next at-bat to end the inning. Yard struck out Amanda Cox to get the first out of FIU's at-bat. With one out, Rita Jackman, who pinch hit for Katie Bell, was caught stealing. The Golden Panthers' Murray flew out to Miller in right field to end the inning.
After the Scarlet Knights went three-up, three-down to start the fifth, White walked and stole a base with two outs. Yard came up with another strikeout, this time against Rodriguez, to end the stanza.
In the top of the sixth, senior Kristen Madoch (Glenview, Ill.) reached on an error on the first baseman, putting the tying run on for the Scarlet Knights with two outs. Sophomore Kaitlyn Valiante (Mt. Laurel, N.J.) nailed a line drive at the short stop, but White came up with the catch to end the inning.
The Rutgers defense got two quick outs, but FIU's Suzy Ellquist singled to left field to put a runner on base for the Golden Panthers, but with the count full, Yard forced Bell to fly out to Miller to end the inning.
Miller and Lindley both struck out swinging, putting two outs on the board. Kalka pinch hit and drilled a double into deep left field for Rutgers to put the tying run in scoring position, but Eastman struck out the next RU batter to close out the game.
The Scarlet Knights will open up play in the FAU Tournament on Friday, March 16, with a 9:00 a.m. match-up with the University of Massachusetts, followed by a game against No. 3 Texas A&M at 1:00 p.m.