The South Florida State College Panther softball team stopped an eight-game slide with a 9-7 game one of a doubleheader win over the State College of Florida Manatees last Thursday.
The Panthers would fall on the short side of a 9-8 decision in the second game to split the doubleheader.
With the split, the Panthers overall record stands at 13-25 and the Suncoast Conference record is 3-7.
“It was not the best played game,” said SFSC Head Coach Carlos Falla, “but the way things have gone over the last two weeks, we’ll take it.”
The Manatees cranked out three bases hits in the top of the first to take an early 1-0 lead.
The Panthers tied the game in the bottom of the second on one swing of the bat by Paige Davis. Davis launched a towering shot into left field that cleared the left field fence as it bent around the foul post.
The Manatees quickly retook the lead in the top of the third, 3-1. With two outs and a runner on second base, SFC’s Shea Fisher, Christina Linton and Katie McCarthy hit consecutive singles to drive in two runs.
In the bottom of the third, all the anguish of the two weeks seemed to break in their favor. Base hits as balls found their way through the infield or dropped into vacated areas in the outfield. Unexplainable errors that have been going against them now went for them.
Jayme Faircloth led off the inning with a walk and reached second on a sacrifice bunt by Lauren Harris.
Singles into right field by Caitlyn Lytle and Davis brought Faircloth home as the Panthers closed to within one of the Manatees, 3-2.
With two outs and two runners on, Alexis Adams singled into left field to tie the game at three.
After the Manatees made a pitching change, Nicole Rosado singled to put the Panthers back on top, 4-3. Mackenzie Hunt was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Kala Thompson followed with an easy comebacker to the Manatee pitcher, which was cleanly fielded. She made the slight turn to first to make the throw, the hand came forward but as if the ball was stuck to her hand, it came out late and into the dirt wide right of the first baseman.
The ball rolled to the fence down the right field line as three runs came racing home and the Panthers held a shocking 7-3 lead. A single by Faircloth to drive in Thompson capped off the scoring as the Panthers led 8-3 after three innings.
It would not be that easy for the Panthers as the Manatees battered Panther pitching in the top of the fifth for four base hits. Along with two defensive errors, State College of Florida shrunk the Panther lead to one run by the end of the inning to make the score 8-7.
The Manatees threatened in the top of the sixth, but the Panthers held them off to maintain an 8-7 lead. South Florida then added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth of a single by pinch hitter Kolby Lipe as the Panther’s headed into the seventh inning with a 9-7 lead.
The Manatees pounded out 12 hits over the first six innings, but posed no threat in the seventh as Alexis Davis, who was pitching in relief, put the Manatees down in order as the Panthers held on to win 9-7.
The Panthers were unable to duplicate those results in the second game as they lost to the Manatees 9-8.
South Florida State College has four games left in the regular season. The first two were on Monday at Panther Field against Hillsborough State College. The last two games are against Polk State College on Thursday in Winter Haven.