Posted: Feb 28, 2020
FORT MYERS, Fla.- In a rematch of the 2019 FCSAA State Championship game, the #3 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers battled the #2 Central Florida Patriots Friday afternoon at City of Palms Park in Downtown Fort Myers. The doubleheader lived up to its billing as a back and forth affair in game one ended with a walk off grand slam from FSW's Lindsey Corbin for a 12-8 win, while game two featured a pair of multi home run games, one for each side, before Central Florida hung on for a 7-5 win to split the twinbill.
With Central Florida coming into the game hitting .396 as a team and FSW .447, it was almost a given that some runs were going to be scored on Friday. That scoring started early as the Patriots ripped four consecutive one out hits in the top half of the 1st to take an early 1-0 lead, but they weren't able to push across any more than that as it remained 1-0 after a half inning of action.
The Bucs answered in the 2nd, using a pair of Patriot misplays on the infield and a ball lost in the sun to score four times to take a 4-1 lead. Feline Poot cashed in two of the runs with a bullet single to left and Rebeca Laudino was the beneficiary of the ball in the sun, getting a two RBI double out of it to give the Bucs the three run lead.
Central got a run in the top of the 4th to make it 4-2, but FSW got the run right back after a leadoff double from Taylor Jensen and a safety squeeze bunt from Lexi Moore to bring her home later in the inning to push the lead back to three at 5-2.
The first three hitters in the Central Florida 5th reached base and eventually scored to knot the score at 5 after 4 1/2.
But again the Buccaneers had an answer. A leadoff double off the wall for Lindsey Corbin, followed by a single from Natavia Ellis put two on for Pallas Potter who took care of the ducks on the pond, hammering a 2-2 pitch over the wall in center for a three run shot to put the Bucs back in front 8-5.
After a quick 6th, it looked like the Bucs had things in the bag in the 7th as they got two quick outs and faced the bottom of the Patriot order, but this one wasn't over quite yet. A single, followed by a hit batter put two on for CF and flipped their lineup to the top. A chopper through the infield brought one run home and a line drive single brought another plateward to make it 8-7. With the game on the line, the Patriots came through with another big hit, their third straight to tie the score at 8 before a ground ball back to pitcher Haley Ellefson finally ended the inning knotted at 8.
After a strikeout to start the Bucs 7th, Owen Bowers came through with a pinch hit single and stole second to put herself in scoring position with one out. Another strikeout put out some of the Bucs' fire, but Lexi Moore walked to put two on with two out. An infield single from Laudino loaded the bases and up stepped Corbin in a spot that every softball player has dreamed of their whole lives. Bases loaded, two outs, tie game, bottom of the 7th, and she did just what most of those dreams end in, sending a 1-1 pitch flying into the night and over the right center field fence for a grand slam, sending the FSW dugout into a frenzy as they walked off the Patriots 12-8 in the opener.
The two teams combined for 29 hits, 15 for Central Florida and 14 for FSW. Corbin was the hero, finishing 3-5 with a double, a homer, and 4 RBIs. Feline Poot also had 3 hits and drove in a pair while Laudino finished 2-5 with a pair of RBIs. Ellefson earned the win in the circle for the Bucs, going the distance to improve to 9-1 on the year.
The Patriots came out looking for revenge and they got it early on as Devyn Howard hit a two run home run in the 1st and a three run shot in the 2nd to quickly give Central Florida a 5-0 advantage.
FSW starter Alyssa O'Donnell settled down from there, but the Bucs offense couldn't get anything going as freshman Madison Edwards kept them off the board through four with the game moving to the 5th with CF still on top 5-0.
The Bucs used some help from the Patriots in the 5th to get things going as a walk and a hit batter gave them two on and no out without the benefit of a hit. After a sac bunt moved the runners over, Ellis crushed one up and out to right center field, quickly getting FSW right back in the game at 5-3.
It stayed a 5-3 game to the 7th when Central Florida added a pair of big insurance runs on back to back doubles to start the frame followed by an RBI single to make it 7-3.
Those runs came in handy moments later as Laudino picked up her second hit of the game to start the inning and scored when Ellis blasted her second home run in three innings to cut it to a two run game once again at 7-5. Potter walked to bring the tying run to the plate, but a lineout to third ended the threat and thus the game with the Patriots hanging on for a 7-5 victory.
The Bucs managed just five hits in the loss, getting two from Laudino and two from Ellis on the two home runs. Ellis finished the night 2-4 with the two long balls and 5 RBIs. O'Donnell suffered the loss in the circle, allowing 7 hits and 5 runs in her second start against a top 10 ranked team in less than a week.
The split moves FSW to 17-2 on the year while the Bucs hand Central Florida their first loss of the season as they move to 24-1.
The Bucs are back in action three times next week at City of Palms Park, first taking on Kalamazoo Valley at 4 PM Tuesday in a non-conference doubleheader.