MELBOURNE -- In addition to the series win over Lynn University this past weekend at Nancy Bottge Field, Florida Tech's single-season ERA record held by Amber West (2005) was broken by current pitching standout Melanie Murphy.
Inside the circle, Murphy has set some outstanding milestones for the Panthers during her first season in a Crimson and Gray uniform. In a quote given by head coach Val Silvestrini earlier this season following Murphy's conference recognition for Pitcher of the Week she said, "Murphy always gives us a chance to win." A statement that has been truthful when discussing the success the Panthers had towards the end of the 2018 campaign.
Hosting its toughest games early on, Florida Tech started off on a bumpy road that did not look as promising for a team that had its eyes set on playoff contention. Through the first three weeks of the season, the Panthers took on three Top-25 ranked opponents in Valdosta State, Angelo State, and St. Mary's during three consecutive tournaments, two of which were held on the road and the other being hosted at Nancy Bottge Field. Over that time frame, Florida Tech had only won 7-of-13 games that were played, which included Muphy's first win of the season against a previously ranked No. 18 Valdosta State lineup. In all of FIT's losses to ranked opponents, the lefty never allowed more than four runs against teams that had been averaging 4-to-7 per game throughout the year.
To open conference play, the Panthers suffered a series sweep against No. 10 Saint Leo, however, Murphy managed to restrain the lions to only four runs during her time inside the circle. After missing the first week of March due to a minor injury, the Melbourne product began to turn things around for FIT during Week 6, where she recorded her first shutout of the season against Embry-Riddle.
Following that performance, the ace went on a six-game win streak that included two shutouts and a save to garnish the No. 1 spot inside the conference for ERA. Her low earned run average also yielded her a national spotlight, as the Crimson and Gray pitcher landed the eighth spot in the NCAA DII ERA category. Murphy's NCAA stardom did not end there, however, as she also guided the FIT pitching staff to national recognition for cumulative team ERA with 1.65, which currently sits eighth best in the country.
From that point forward, Murphy reigned atop the leaderboard for 31 days straight beginning with the Barry series and dominated her conference opponents only allowing five runs over the next eight games that she pitched. Included in that eight-game winning stretch were four additional shutouts, a Sunshine State Conference Pitcher of the Week recognition, the Louisville Slugger/NFCA DII Pitcher of the Week award, and the programs fourth no-hitter in the past 10 years.
Taking things a step further, the Panthers pitching standout managed to finish the regular season strong and set a new single-season ERA record (1.00), which had not been broken for 13 years. Additionally, Murphy finished the season with a 17-9 record, 108 strikeouts, three saves, 27 earned runs, seven shutouts (one no-hitter), and held her opponents to a .181 batting average over 189 innings pitched.