By Brian Olmo and William Duval
FIU women’s tennis closes out the week with wins over Houston and USF before dropping to Rice from March 30 to April 2 in Houston, TX. Prior to the loss, the Panthers’ win streak was 10, the longest since 2021.
In their first game against the Houston Cougars, it was clear that the Panthers came with fire in their eyes.
Houston, down on its luck, hoped to improve in singles play.
Loudili squashed that hope rather quickly, kicking things off with a dominant 6-0, 6-2 victory over Trencheva to give the junior standout her 11th singles win, a team high.
Kabbaj followed up with another crushing blow, dispatching Dzemeshkevich in No. 1 singles, 6-0, 6-3, to give FIU a 3-0 edge.
Quadre would ultimately spell doom for the Cougars, routing Sophie Schouten in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, to keep the Panthers in the win column and send Houston tumbling, 4-0.
A similar fate fell to USF as FIU swatted them away in a 4-1 victory. The Bulls did manage to score a point in singles, but that was quickly overshadowed by Quadre, Mandelikova and freshman Ekaterina Khairutdinova winning three straight.
The Panthers’ fortune ended against No. 48 Rice Owls, another undefeated team in conference play.
With Kabbaj and Quadre falling at No. 2 doubles 6-4 and Mandelikova and Loudili losing at the No. 3 spot 7-6, the team came into singles down, but not out.
FIU quickly regained the lead off a pair of wins from graduate Kamila Umarova and Kabbaj, but it was short-lived as the Owls would strike back to take the lead 3-2 after Loudili fell 7-6, 7-5.
Rice’s Maria Budin put the final nail in the coffin for the Panthers, outlasting Mandelikova 7-6 (5) to give the Owls the win, 4-2.
The baseball team came up short in their rematch against the Miami Hurricanes, losing 6-5 on March 28, 2023, at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.
The game began an hour and fifteen minutes late due to a rain delay, which impacted the first two innings as no team scored until the third when redshirt sophomore Brendan Roney stepped up to the plate and hammered in an emphatic solo home run to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the third, Miami junior CJ Kayfus scored the team’s first run after a single from junior Zach Levenson.
The fourth inning was dominated by FIU on both offense and defense, mostly due to the efforts of redshirt senior Alec Sanchez, who hit a home run to give the team a 2-1 edge.
Miami senior Dario Gomez made a huge hit to left field that seemed like a home run.
Sanchez would sprint to the ball and make a jumping catch to prevent the score, halting Miami’s momentum. From that point, the game remained at 2-1 until the seventh inning.
Junior Dante Girardi kicked off the seventh with a hit and a tough slide to second base. A Sanchez single would score Girardi, extending the Panthers’ lead to 3-1.
FIU’s pitching allowed many walks through the game, but it didn’t affect them until the end. At the bottom of the seventh, junior Jack Scanlon was Miami’s first hitter of the inning and received a walk.
Kayfus would then return for the offense, cracking a massive two-run home run to tie the game at 3-3.
After two hitters were walked and a bunt from Roney, FIU had runners at first and second bases. Girardi would hit a single, allowing both redshirt junior Robert Sotolongo and freshman Roylan Quevedo to score. FIU reclaimed the lead, 5-3.
The Panthers held this lead until the bottom of the ninth inning when it was Miami’s turn on offense. FIU would strike out the Hurricanes’ first two hitters, looking to close out the game.
Sophomore Edgardo Villegas was walked, with FIU’s pitching doing so for the seventh time this game. Then Morales would hit a single, allowing Villegas to advance to second base.
Levenson returned to the plate, knowing he needed a hit to win the game.
With the weight of this game on his shoulders, Levenson smashed in a three-run home run, giving Miami the nail-biter win, 6-5.
The softball team concluded the week with a commanding three-game sweep of the UTSA Roadrunners from March 31 to April 2 at FIU Softball Stadium.
UTSA was held to just 12 hits across all three games while being outscored by the Panthers 19-3 in the series.
Birling tossed her second complete game, limiting UTSA to one run and four hits over seven innings. Perez hit an RBI double to give FIU a crucial 2-1 lead in the second.
The second game was over before it even began, with FIU uncorking a vicious seven-run second inning to bludgeon the Roadrunners 9-1.
In the series finale, the Roadrunners struck first, scoring a run off a sacrifice fly at the top of the first inning. A great start, but that’s all it turned out to be.
FIU responded right after by rattling off four runs in the first.
Senior Frankie Izard started the offensive onslaught, taking advantage of UTSA errors to tie the score at 1-1.
Freshman Ella Whitney scored freshman Isabella Perez with a single, and an RBI from senior Madison Lewis and a sacrifice fly by freshman Makayla Navarro gave FIU a 4-1 advantage that it would never lose.
The Panthers scored three more runs in the fourth and fifth inning to end with the win, 7-1.