Patriots slug their way past Saints

Home » News
Posted March 16, 2023 | By Mark Pinson
Special to Ocala Gazette
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

After falling behind by five runs in the top of the first inning, the College of Central Florida softball team showed great resiliency by storming back to score six runs in the bottom of the frame on its way to a hard-fought 11-9 win over Santa Fe College on a sun-splashed Thursday afternoon.

The loss dropped the Saints to 23-12 overall and 0-1 in Mid Florida Conference play.

The win, in its conference opener, snapped a two-game losing streak for the College of Central Florida and improved the Patriots to 31-8, 1-0.

“That was definitely a roller coaster game,” said Central Florida coach Mike Lingle. “From the very first inning to the last we were on eggshells. One good thing about this team is they fight no matter if they’re down or up. I liked our energy in the dugout today and little stuff like that means a lot in a tight game like this.”

Santa Fe College (Gainesville) jumped in front in the top of the first inning by scoring five runs off Central Florida starter Haley Guffey with the key hit a three-run double by Ariana Wright. Anna Toon came on in relief of Guffey with one out in the top of the first and retired the next two batters.

Central Florida answered in the bottom of the frame as Brooke Roberts, Hannah Meyer, Emily Konz and Cameron Wolfenden had RBI singles and Hailey Scott laced a two-run double off Santa Fe pitcher Sophie Abrams as the Patriots took a 6-5 lead.

Santa Fe went back to work in the top of the second inning and took advantage of three walks and two base hits to score two runs. Guffey came on in relief of Toon with the bases loaded and nobody out and retired the next three Saints hitters to escape further damage to leave Central Florida trailing by a score of 7-6.

The Patriots wasted no time in roughing up Abrams again in the bottom of the inning as Megan Loftis led off with an infield single and the left-handed Scott followed with a blast over the right-center field fence for a two-run homer and an 8-7 lead.

The right-handed Guffey, who scattered 10 hits and struck out four, breezed through the Santa Fe lineup in the third inning.

Central Florida, which banged out 12 hits, extended its lead in the bottom of the frame as sophomore Gianna Guerriero belted a two-run double and scored on a Santa Fe error to put the Patriots on top, 11-7.

The Saints kept battling and managed to score a pair of runs in the top of the fourth inning on an RBI double by Riley Schnyder and a run-scoring single by Jayelyn Carter to pull within 11-9.

Santa Fe put runners on base in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings but Guffey bore down each time to record key outs to keep the Patriots on top.

The Saints had runners on first and second base with two outs in the seventh inning and brought the go-ahead run to the plate in Juliann Smith. Guffey got Smith to fly out to left field to end the threat and the game.

The gutty performance over 6 1/3 innings improved Guffey, a talented freshman, to an impressive 18-2 on the season.

“Haley is a great student of the game and she worked on her curve between innings in the bullpen and figured out what she needed to correct,” coach Lingle said. “I don’t want to have 17 more conference games like this, but a win is a win.”

Central Florida is back on the diamond on Sunday with a doubleheader at Santa Fe.

newspaper icon

Support community journalism

The first goal of the Ocala Gazette is to deliver trustworthy local journalism so corruption, misinformation and abuse are not hidden from the public or unchallenged.

We count on community support to continue this important work. Please donate or subscribe: