Leesburg, Fla. – The Lake-Sumter State College softball program opened their 2018 Season on Friday, sweeping a double header against Georgia Highlands before heading to the JUCO Classic in Clearwater.
A big first inning in game one against GA Highlands set the tone for the home opener. A triple by Brooke Ferguson with one out brought home Nini Underwood from second to get the scoring started. Ferguson eventually scored on a double by Taylor Dotson. A walk, two hit by pitches and a two-out double by Lauryn Markis, put the Lakehawks up by five.
Jasmine McQuaig was in the circle for LSSC and proceeded to take over the game. The sophomore took a perfect game into the sixth inning before allowing her first base runner on a bunt single. The Chargers biggest threat came that inning with one out and runners on second and third. A line drive to 3B Jenna Curtis resulted in an inning ending double play.
In the bottom of the seventh, GHC led off with a single, followed by two quick outs. McQuaig ended the game in perfect fashion with a strikeout. The righty went the distance for a two hit, complete game shutout, while striking out five.
Game two was a back and forth battle with offense taking precedent over pitching. Highlands took a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the fourth inning before Mackenzie Reeves hit a massive two run home run over the scoreboard in left field to put her team up, 3-2.
Both teams continued to scoot runs across the plate throughout the contest. GHC went up 6-5 in the top of the sixth. Pitcher, Kaitlyn Van Buren was able to shut the Chargers down in order to start the seventh inning, keeping her team within one run.
Three singles in a row got the bottom half of the inning started. Ferguson, Underwood and Hailey Dobbs occupied the bases, down one with nobody out. Rachel Phelps hit a sacrifice fly to bring in the tying run. One batter later, Taylor Dotson dropped down a bunt single to bring in Underwood, giving the Lakehawks a 7-6 walk-off victory.
Saturday marked the annual JUCO Kickoff Classic event in Clearwater, FL. LSSC started the day off with Pensacola State. The Pirates grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second. In the top of third, Phelps doubled up the middle to bring around Taylor Turner and Ferguson to put her team up, 2-1.
The score remained the same until Lake-Sumter added a third run in the top of the seventh inning. PSC fought hard to get runners on and after two singles, a double and a bloop hit over the infield, the Lakehawks found themselves on the losing end of a 4-3 game.
Game two on Saturday was against State College of Florida – Manatee. A four run second inning put Manatee out in front early. In the top of the fourth, Markis drove a bases loaded single into centerfield to bring around Lucia Esposito and Meghan Young. Aura Blackburn scored from third on the next at bat by Dobbs. Markis eventually came around on an error by the second baseman to knot the game up at 4-4.
LSSC would bring across Danielle Arceneaux in the sixth off the bat of Blackburn who doubled to centerfield. SCFM would post their second four run inning of the game in the bottom half and seal the victory over Lake-Sumter in the seventh, 8-5.
The third and final game of the weekend pitted the Lakehawks against No. 18 Georgia Military. Ernie Murphy got the start and was able to hold the Bulldogs to three runs over four innings. The bullpen combo of McQuaig and Erin Huffman combined for just one hit allowed over the final three innings.
It was a 3-3 ball game heading into the bottom of the seventh. LSSC had two quick outs and the game was looking to go into extra innings. Underwood steps up and hits a double to left field. Dotson then came to the plate and hit her second walk-off base hit of the weekend, bringing Underwood around to score. Huffman earned the victory, 4-3.
Saturday also boasted an All-Star game in which Ferguson, McQuaig and Blackburn were all selected to play in to represent the Mid-Florida Conference team. The MFC ended up winning the game, 6-5. Ferguson ended the game with one hit, one RBI, one run scored and a stolen base. McQuaig was sharp for two innings in the circle tallying two strikeouts. Blackburn continued to hit well, driving in the first run of the game for her team.
"It was a very good opening weekend for our girls," said Head Coach, Jay Miller. "With a lot of young kids on this team, it was great to have them get so much experience in these first few games. Our pitching was solid on Friday and that carried over to Saturday. Our bats were there from inning one on the first day, until the last at bat on Saturday." Miller added, "This is going to be a fun group to watch improve and gain confidence throughout the season."
Next up for LSSC is Polk State at the Hawks Nest, this Friday. It is a double-header with the first game slated to begin at 1:00 pm.