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GC softball settles for split

Updated Mar 25, 2017 at 10:33 PM

By Pat McCann / The News Herald

 

PANAMA CITY — If building a junior college softball program equates to climbing rungs on a ladder, certainly Gulf Coast ascended one last year when it reached the state tournament.

 

To some, a logical next step would be gaining a competitive balance with recent Panhandle Conference frontrunners Northwest Florida State and Chipola.

 

In that regard, the Lady Commodores’ split with Northwest Florida on Saturday at Joe Tom King Field might have been a step forward.

In retrospect, it didn’t feel that way as Gulf Coast won the opening game 5-2 and was leading 3-1 entering the fifth inning of the second game. With a sweep in sight, the Lady Commodores instead surrendered eight consecutive runs and fell 9-3.

 

The split left both teams at 5-3 in the conference and three games behind leader Chipola. Gulf Coast is 24-13 overall, Northwest Florida 32-10.

 

One positive the Lady Commodores could take from Saturday’s results is that they stemmed the bleeding from the carnage of their doubleheader Wednesday in Tallahassee. That twinbill also resulted in a split, but Gulf Coast surrendered 28 runs in two games.

 

Against the Lady Raiders, they yielded only five combined runs in 13 of the 14 innings played. Unfortunately, NWFS scored six runs in the sixth inning of the second game and it made the difference between a split and a sweep.

 

Brittany Lee pitched into the sixth inning in the opener and Gulf Coast rallied from a two-run deficit. The Lady Commodores scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth inning on four hits, Bailey Heineman’s two-run double the big blow.

 

Kristina Manthei relieved Lee when the Lady Raiders threatened in the sixth. Brianna Ernst was hit by a pitch, Danielle Gomez walked and Kristan Lizardi greeted Manthei with a single to load the bases.

 

Tyra Bowers tapped to third baseman Kynadi Tipler, who forced Ernst at the plate. With the bases still loaded and the dangerous Tori Robinson at the plate, Manthei got a critical strikeout on a 2-2 changeup.

 

Robinson’s production in Game 2 showed just how crucial that pitch turned out to be.

 

Northwest Florida led 1-0 in the nightcap entering the Gulf Coast third, but the Lady Commodores loaded the bases against Louise Disi when Bailey Heineman was hit by a pitch and Bailey Burk and Annsley Brown both singled. Serdi Marchozzi then popped up behind the plate, and first baseman Mari Pereira made the catch in foul territory before colliding with catch Danielle Gomez.

 

Heineman tagged at third and apparently thought she might score during the confusion, but Pereira recovered quickly, threw to Disi covering the plate and Disi in turn relayed the ball to third baseman Ernst for a very unconventional double play.

 

That also became key when Tipler smacked a 3-2 pitch over the fence in right-center field for a three-run homer, her seventh of the season.

 

Gulf Coast led 3-1 until the fifth inning when Tyra Brown led off with a single and Robinson drilled her seventh homer off the scoreboard in left field. That finished Lee, who also pitched into the fifth inning of the second game, and reliever Payton Carpenter got

out of the inning without further damage.

 

The sixth inning was a nightmare of infield hits, plays in the field that Gulf Coast could have made to shorten the inning and did not, and a parade of baserunners by the Lady Raiders.

 

Robinson gave Northwest Florida the lead for good when she came up with the bases loaded and two outs and drilled a shot off Carpenter that glanced past shortstop Marchozzi and into left field.

 

Four more hits and a hit batter ensued, Disi’s two-run single the major contribution in the six-run uprising.

 

Disi went the distance in the circle to pick up the win as the Lady Commodores got a view from a higher rung on the ladder, only to have to back off a step.

 

Gulf Coast hosts Chipola, ranked No. 2 in the nation, in a doubleheader on Tuesday.

 

Game 1

Northwest Florida;020 000 0 — 2 4 1

Gulf Coast;000 410 x — 5 9 2

 

Rosbrugh (L), Disi 4 and Gomez; Lee (W), Manthei 6 and Burton.

LOB: Northwest 10, Gulf Coast 6. E: Pereira, Ewing 2. DP: Northwest 2-left early, Gulf Coast 6-3. SF: Ewing, Lizardi, Tipler. SB: Robinson, Burk, Marchozzi, Wood. CS: Heineman (by Gomez). 2B: Robinson, Heineman, Lee. 3B: Marchozzi. IP: Manthei. WP: Disi. HBP: by Lee (Luther, Ernst), by Rosbrugh (Burk). RBIs: Gomez, Lizardi, Burks, Ewing, Heineman 2, Tipler.

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