The Pirate softball team traveled to Clearwater, Florida this past weekend to open their season in the prestigious JUCO Kickoff Classic. They played five games in two days against strong competition and went 2-3 on the weekend. Continue reading below for individual game recaps.
Florida Southwestern (FSW) 3 Pensacola State (PSC) 2
In game one PSC fell behind early before they settled in, but could never completely recover to take the lead. FSW used two doubles and a couple defensive miscues to plate two runs in the top of the first inning. The Pirates did answer back in the bottom half of the inning when Lia Johnson scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jensen Strickland to make the score 2-1. The Buccaneers extended their lead to 3-1 in the third inning and the Pirates made it 3-2 in the fourth when Shelby Thornsberry led off with a double and later scored on a sacrifice fly from Johnson. Although PSC threatened multiple times, they stranded eight runners on base, the game ended with a 3-2 score. Johnson led the offensive effort as she went 2-for-3 with a run scored and run batted in (RBI). Strickland had a strong performance on the mound as she threw the complete game and struck out five batters while scattering six hits.
PSC 4 St. Petersburg 5
In their second game of the day the Pirates came out hot and scored four runs in the top of the first against St. Petersburg. Lia Johnson led off with a single and was following by a walk from Danielle de Ruiter and an RBI single from Jensen Strickland to take an immediate 1-0 lead. That was followed up by a towering home run off the bat of Kaeleen Koehler to make it 4-0. The Titans strung together some hits and utilized a costly error to pull even in the bottom of the second and then used a solo home run in the third to take a 5-4 lead that would hold up. Koehler was the leading hitter as she went 1-for-3 with the home run and three RBI's while Johnson, Strickland, Shelby Thornsberry and Brittney Rayfield each chipped in a hit in the game.
PSC 11 Georgia Military 3
Things finally clicked for the Pirates in their third game of the day as they exploded for 11 runs in a win over Georgia Military. PSC used a combination of walks and hits to jump out to 4-0 lead in the top of the first. Kayla Leibman had an RBI single to start things off and Madison Marshall drove in two runs with a single up the middle. Georgia Military used two errors and two double to make the score 4-3 at the end of the first inning, but they would be offensively denied the rest of the game while PSC would score in six out of seven innings. After adding one run in the second inning the third inning saw the Pirates plate three more runs. They used five single in a row to score two runs and eventually drove across one more to make the lead 8-3. The leading hitters in the game were Jensen Strickland as she went 2-for-3 with two RBI's and two walks, Kayla Leibman was 3-for-5 with two RBI's and Lia Johnson was 2-for-4 with four runs scored and a walk. Strickland also picked up the win on the mound as she went the distance and struck out six as she only walked one batter and gave up no earned runs.
Lake Sumter 3 PSC 4
The first game Saturday morning saw the Pirates start a little slow, but ended in exciting fashion as they pulled out the win by scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh. PSC scored first in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice fly from Brittney Rayfield, but Lake Sumter immediately answered by plating three runs in the top of the third. The 3-1 score would hold until the bottom of the seventh when Natalie Sorensen and Rayfield started things with back-to-back singles and both advanced 60 feet on a sacrifice bunt from Caitlyn Yockey. After a strikeout the Pirates were down to their last out when Lia Johnson doubled to tie the game and subsequently scored the game winner on a single from Kayla Leibman. Savannah Foster got the start for the Pirates and threw six innings while striking out six and only giving up four hits.
PSC 2 Daytona State 5
The Pirates out hit Daytona 11 to six, but it wasn't enough as they fell 5-2 in their last game of the weekend. PSC drew first blood in the second inning when Haley Willis singled and eventually scored on a bunt single from Lia Johnson. Daytona tied things up in the bottom half of the inning before they pulled ahead for good with two runs in the third. Kaeleen Koehler toed the rubber for the Pirates and she went six innings, allowing five runs on six hits while striking out one. She also was a leading hitter for the Pirates as she went 3-for-4 with a double and run scored. Willis ended the day 2-for-3 with a run scored while Johnson also picked up two hits in the game.
Photo courtesy: FloSoftball