By Barron Demons
The Pirate softball team made a spectacular run to place a bid for the FCSAA (Florida College System Activities Association) Region 8 State Tournament but fell short against Indian River State College (IRSC) 2-1.
The Lady Pirates defeated conference opponents Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC) and Gulf Coast State College (GCSC) at the end of the regular season. The team placed in the state tournament, and the Lady Pirates induced the confidence that they could possibly earn a state championship.
The Pirates first game of the double-elimination series was against number one nationally ranked Florida Southwestern College (FSWC).
Southwestern defeated the Pirates 3-2 earlier this year in the first game of the season. The score would be different, but the outcome was the same as the Pirates couldn’t push across any runs and were defeated 3-0.
Griffin was the first pitcher and only pitched 2.1 innings. She surrendered three hits and two runs. Foster saw the mound in a relief situation and pitched 3.2 innings. She gave up one hit and one run. Both pitchers were able to strike out two batters.
However, the Pirates offense was a threat to score in the third inning.
Lia Johnson picked up a single and had a successful steal attempt to second base. She tried to score from second base when Kayla Leibman hit a ball in play. Unfortunately, with two outs, Johnson was tagged out heading to home plate ending the inning. Johnson, Leibman and Daniel de Ruiter each had a hit in the game.
Despite the loss, the Pirates had another chance to redeem themselves the next day to capture a win and move deeper into the tournament.
The Pirates next opponent was Indian River State College.
The Pioneers lost the day before by the hands of Seminole State College. The two losing teams (PSC and IRSC) would then play an elimination game.
PSC struck first in the second inning off the bat of Natalie Sorensen.
Sorensen took a pitch and belted a homerun over right field putting the Pirates ahead early.
Sophomore pitcher Jensen Strickland was on the mound for the Pirates in game two. She pitched almost the entire game with 6.1 innings, six hits, two runs and six total strikeouts in her last stint as a Pirate.
The Pirates seemed to be in control much of the game until a heartbreaking seventh and final inning.
Indian River State rallied with a pair of singles and a sacrifice bunt to advance runners in scoring position. The next batter singled, and a run scored to tie the game 1-1.
Foster entered the game and became the new pitcher to help the Pirates get out of the jam once again.
The first batter that Foster faced hit a single into right field and loaded the bases with only one out. Foster was able to get the next batter to pop out to secure the second out. The pressure now fell on the defense to get the last out to send the game into extra innings.
Ahead in the count 1-2, Foster’s pitch was hit to third baseman Caitlyn Yockey. Yockey attempted to secure the out, but the ball was tipped off her glove, and the winning run scored from third base. The Pioneers scored their only two runs in the final inning, but it was enough to defeat the Pirates and end their season.
The Pirates phenomenal season ended with a 28-24 record, and 10 sophomores will graduate and depart from the Pirate softball team. Those sophomores include: Caitlyn Yockey, Brittney Rayfield, Danielle de Ruiter, Jensen Strickland, Madison Marshall, Shelby Thornsberry, Ashley Gardenal, Hayley Pelkey, Lia Johnson and Alexandra Verardi.
Congratulations on an outstanding year and good luck next season.