The Pensacola State softball team traveled to Panama City, Florida this weekend for the Panhandle playoff and won three games to secure the no. 2 Panhandle seed for the State Tournament. They started the playoff on Friday with a 5-0 win over Northwest Florida State (NWF) and then immediately play game one of a best of three series versus the home team Gulf Coast State (GC). They took game one 8-6 and finished off the Commodores on Saturday with a 4-3 win to clinch the bid. Continue reading below for individual game recaps.
NWF 0 PSC 5
Shelby Griffin threw a 2-hit shutout to lead PSC over NWF 5-0 on Friday. The Pirates got things started in the first inning when Madison Marshall singled up the middle to score the first run and was followed by a bases loaded walk to Shelby Thornsberry to plate another run. With the bases still loaded Natalie Sorensen singled to drive in two more runs and give the Pirates a 4-0 lead. The score held until the sixth when PSC added an insurance run courtesy of a sacrifice fly from Lia Johnson.
Griffin cruised in the circle as she threw a complete game only giving up two hits and striking out five. Lia Johnson and Madison Marshall both were 2-for-3 in the game with an RBI while Kayla Leibman was 2-for-4 with a run scored.
PSC 8 GC 6
In the second game of the day was played against the host Commodores and the Pirate offense exploded for 17 hits and eight runs. Lia Johnson led the game off with a single and eventually scored on a single off the bat of Alexis Guzman. Natalie Sorensen then picked up an RBI-single to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. A defensive error in the bottom of the first allowed GC to tie the game 2-2. The score remained knotted until the top of the fourth when a single from Kaeleen Koehler made the score 3-2 and was followed by an RBI-single from Madison Marshall make it 4-2. PSC plated one more run in the inning on a sacrifice fly from Shelby Thornsberry to give them a 3-run lead. Gulf Coast responded with a run in their bottom half of the inning cut the lead to 5-3. The Pirates answered in the top of the fifth when Alexis Guzman singled to drive in two runs and extend the lead to 7-3. Pensacola picked up one insurance run in the top of the sixth when Danielle de Ruiter doubled to right field to plate Shelby Thornsberry and make the score 8-3. Things got exciting in the bottom of the seventh when GC was able to string together some hits to pull within 8-6, but Savannah Foster ended the threat by striking out the last batter.
Foster threw a complete game and struck out 10 batters while only giving up two earned runs. Lia Johnson and Madison Marshall were each 3-for-5 in the game while Alexis Guzman was 2-for-4 with three RBI's. Kayla Leibman, Kaeleen Koehler, Shelby Thornsberry and Natalie Sorensen each picked up two hits in the game.
PSC 4 GC 3
The Pirates avoided the if necessary game by going ahead and winning game two on Saturday. They were able to get out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the first to keep the score 0-0, but it would not hold for long. In the top of the second singles from Alexis Guzman, Madison Marshall and Shelby Thornsberry loaded the bases and Natalie Sorensen blasted a monster home run to dead centerfield for a grand slam. Gulf Coast threatened in their half of the inning, but Lia Johnson ended the threat with an excellent over the shoulder catch for the third out. In the bottom of the fourth GC used an error and two singles to make the score 4-2. Kaeleen Koehler took over pitching duties in the fifth inning and a double play from Brittney Rayfield and Danielle de Ruiter ended the inning quickly. The sixth inning was handled quickly on both sides and the Pirates still held a 4-2 lead going into the bottom of the seventh. As the rain started to come down Koehler induced two fly outs before an error and single pulled the Commodores to within one run, but the Pirates clinched the win with a diving catch from Shelby Thornsberry at second base.
Jensen Strickland picked up the win as she threw four innings and scattered five hits and only gave up one earned run. Koehler picked up the save with three innings of work and only allowed one hit and no earned runs. Natalie Sorensen was the leading hitter with her grand slam while Johnson, Guzman, Marshall, Thornsberry and Strickland all added a hit each.
The Pirates will now travel to Sanford, Florida next week for the State Tournament. They will open play on May 3rd at 10:00 am versus Florida Southwestern.