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Gulf Coast sweeps NWF

Dustin Kent

PANAMA CITY — In Gulf Coast’s first Panhandle Conference win of 2019, a 10-3 victory over Tallahassee in the second half of Tuesday’s road double header against TCC, it was all about the offense.

In Thursday’s doubleheader sweep of Northwest Florida State at Joe Tom King Field, it was pitching that ruled the day for the Lady Commodores (26-8 overall, 3-1 in conference).

Freshman right-hander Hannah Poole claimed the victory in both games, pitching three innings of scoreless relief in the first game, a 3-1 win, and then tossing a complete game shutout to give GC a 3-0 triumph in game two.

It was an impressive if not unexpected outing for a pitcher who just a week ago was named the NJCAA National Pitcher of the Week after throwing a pair of no-hitters.

“Hannah has been pitching well the last couple of weeks,” Gulf Coast coach Beth Wade said. “She’s been on a roll a little bit and is finally kind of getting into her groove at the right time. She’s getting back to where she’s used to being. She’s gutsy. She wants the ball in those big situations and she showed today why she deserves it.”

Poole found herself in a pressure moment in game one, coming on in relief of starter Brittany Crowson in a 1-1 game in the top of the sixth inning with runners on first and second base and no outs.

She got out of the jam with ease, striking out the next three batters, all swinging, to end the inning. Poole allowed just one hit in her three innings of work and struck out four.

Kristina Warford delivered the walk-off hit in the bottom of the eighth inning, taking a pitch from Lady Raiders reliever Brookelyn Sweeney over the left field fence for a two-run home run.

Another solo home run by Taylor Robinson off of Northwest starter Lauren Rase that just stayed fair enough to clear the left field fence tied the game for Gulf Coast in the sixth inning.

The Lady Raiders opened the scoring with a lead-off home run by Maggie Wheless to start the game, but Crowson settled in after that and kept Northwest off the board for the next four innings, allowing five hits and two walks and striking out five.

In game two, Poole was in dominant form from the first pitch to the last, striking out 15 Northwest Florida State batters and surrendering just four hits.

Gulf Coast scored a run in the fourth inning and tacked on two more in the bottom of the sixth. Robinson was 2 for 3 with two doubles with an RBI and two runs, with Hayden Lindsay going 2 for 3 and bringing in Robinson twice.

Wade said she was impressed with the grit her players showed in both games, which they will need as they navigate the rest of the Panhandle schedule.

“It’s conference, so that’s what you keep trying to tell the freshmen, that it’s what conference is gonna be like,” she said. “It will be a dogfight to the end. We came out ready to play and I can’t say enough about the pitching staff today. They played really well.”

The Lady Commodores will be back in action Saturday in Marianna for a doubleheader against Chipola.

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