FSW Drops Late Night Shootout to End Run In Clearwater

Maddy Golka (Photo by Simone Amaduzzi)
Maddy Golka (Photo by Simone Amaduzzi)
CLEARWATER, Fla- If the #3 Florida SouthWestern State Buccaneers are going to get a chance to defend their NJCAA National Championship, the ticket to do so will have to come in the form of an at-large bid from the NJCAA Softball Committee as FSW dropped a 12-11 shootout to Eastern Florida State late Friday night to be eliminated from the South Atlantic District Tournament in Clearwater. 
The Bucs opened the day with their first elimination game of the tournament as they took on #11 Gulf Coast State in an NJCAA Top 20 matchup.  
FSW jumped all over the Commodores early on as Emily Allegood banged a double off the wall to bring home two and scored herself later in the inning on an RBI single from Skylar Brennan to make it 3-0 Buccaneers. After Gulf Coast went to the bullpen the Bucs continued to push as Mia Terito drew a bases loaded walk to force home a run and make it 4-0 FSW at the end of one. 
Gulf Coast got on the board for the first time in the 3rd as a Buccaneer throw ended up in the stands to allow runners to advance and cut the FSW lead to 4-1 after 2 1/2. 
The Bucs got the run back in the bottom of the inning as D'Yani McKinley brought home a run on a groundout to push the Bucs lead back to four at 5-1 after three. 
With their season on the line, the Commodores wouldn't go away, getting right back into the game in the 4th on a one out single before a three run home run down the left field line leveled the score at 5. 
The Bucs answered right back with a four spot of their own as Ella Moore singled up the middle to score one and Brennan followed suit with a two run single back up the box to make it 8-5 before Paige Lassiter lifted a sacrifice fly to left to bring home the Bucs fourth run of the inning and make it a 9-5 game. 
Gulf Coast got a run back in the 5th to keep things close, but the Bucs put the game away in the bottom of the 6th as Lassiter drove home another run to make it 10-6 before Sydney McCray slapped a double down the left field line to plate two and make it a 12-6 game.  They weren't done yet as with one out and a pair in scoring position Kmari WIlliams laid down a sac bunt and brought home not only one, but two as McCray flew around to score and end the game as the run rule kicked in with FSW taking it 14-6. 
Brennan was the offensive star for the Bucs, finishing a perfect 3-3 with three RBIs while McCray and Moore each had two hits and scored twice. Esmee Ames gutted out 4 2/3 innings for her 20th win of the season in the circle before handing the ball to Lea Chevrier who nailed down her fourth save of the season and 10th of her career to set a new FSW career record. 
The win sent FSW to the South Atlantic District B Semifinal where they squared off with the Eastern Florida State Titans for the second time on the week. 
Just like they did in the two team's meeting on Wednesday, Eastern jumped in front early, getting a pair of 1st inning runs to take a 2-0 lead before the Bucs got their first cracks on offense. 
FSW answered in the 2nd as Sietske Drijvers led off the frame with a single and trotted home as Brennan cracked a home run to dead center to tie the game at 2 with one swing of the bat.  
The Bucs took their first lead of the game in the 3rd as they loaded the baess with one out before Brennan lifted a sac fly to center to bring home a run and put FSW in front 3-2. 
The lead didn't last long though as Eastern fought back in a big way in the 4th scoring four times on just three hits to erase the Bucs lead and take a 6-3 advantage of their own. 
The Bucs had a chance to get the runs right back in the bottom of the inning as they loaded the bases with one out for the middle of their order, but they only managed to get one on a walk to Ella Moore as they left the bases loaded on a fly out to left to keep Eastern in front 6-4. 
A pair of FSW walks in the top of the 5th helped the Titans set the table and Eastern took advantage with a one out double to the wall in left to score both and extend their lead to 8-4. 
Eastern gifted the Bucs a run back in the bottom of the 5th on three walks including one with the bases loaded to make it an 8-5 game and with one swing of the bat Virginia Mambelli drew the Bucs even with a double to the wall to clear the bases and make it 8-8. Moore ripped a single to right to bring Mambelli home and put FSW back in front 9-8 after five wild innings of action. 
The Bucs added some insurance in the 6th as an Eastern error allowed one run to score and D'Yani McKinley drilled an RBI triple to the wall to score another to make it 11-8 FSW as the teams went to the 7th. 
All the Bucs needed to punch their ticket to the Championship Game was three outs before Eastern scored three runs, unfortunately for FSW, they couldn't do that.  A leadoff hit batter and a double got Eastern on the board quick in the 7th and an infield single brought another run home to make it an 11-10 game. An intentional walk with two outs loaded the bases before a five pitch walk forced the equalizer home to tie the game at 11. 
The Bucs had a chance to walk it off in the 7th as Moore singled to start the inning and was replaced by a pinch runner who moved to third with two outs before being gunned down at the plate trying to steal home to end the inning and send the game to extras knotted at 11. 
A leadoff double for the Titans set the table in the 8th and a stolen base followed by a wild pitch allowed the run to score to put Eastern on top 12-11. 
The Bucs went quietly in the bottom of the 8th as three straight pop ups set them down in order and ended their run at the tournament as Eastern Florida took the game 12-11 in eight. 
The Bucs finished with 13 hits in the loss as Moore finished a big week 3-4 with a pair of RBIs while Lassiter had her first career three hit game and Mambelli was 2-3 with three RBIs. Chevrier suffered her first loss of the season, allowing seven hits and seven runs in five innings pitched to fall to 23-1 on the year. 
FSW falls to 54-8 on the year with the loss while Eastern Florida collects their 40th win to reach the District Championship Game with a bid to the NJCAA World Series on the line. 
The Bucs 2024 fate is now in the hands of the NJCAA Softball Committee who will have to determine whether or not the 3rd ranked Bucs recieve an at-large bid to the NJCAA World Series in Oxford, Alabama later this month.