OCALA--The College of Central Florida softball team made a statement on opening weekend, run-ruling each opponent at the Juco Kickoff Classic in Clearwater.
The Lady Patriots were set to play five games in two days, but Sunday's two games were canceled due to rain.
CF, NJCAA Div. I preseason No. 1, opened up the 2017 season against Motlow State Community College. The game was scoreless until the Patriots broke it open with five runs in the third inning and added three more insurance runs in the fifth to shutout Motlow 8-0 in five innings.
Freshman Shayne O'Connell made it count in her first start as a Patriot, not allowing a run and striking out seven in four innings of work. At the plate, newcomer Tiffani Railey (2-for-4, 4 runs scored), and returners Kelsee Cullop (2-for-4, 4 RBI) and Claudia Jones (2-for-2, 1 run scored, RBI) paced CF in the win.
In the second of three games, CF run ruled in-state rival Miami Dade College 11-0 in five innings. The Patriots took advantage of the Sharks' five errors on the day, putting up five runs in the first and fourth innings and finished it off with an additional run in the fifth.
Hannah Kelly, Shelbee Blackburn and Destinee Lizzmore each drove in two runs en rout to a twelve-hit game for CF. In the circle, freshman Morgan Cushman didn't allow a hit or run in three innings while striking out seven in her first college start.
CF's offense kept rolling in the final game of the day, downing Palm Beach State College 12-4 in five innings. Kelly led the offensive charge, going 1-for-2 with three RBI, two runs scored and a home run. Other key contributors include: Jones (3-for-3, 2 RBI, 3 runs scored), Lizzmore 2-for-4, 2 RBI, 3 runs scored) and Blackburn (2-for-2, 2 RBI, HR).
In the circle, newcomer Lindsay Markham allowed two runs on one hit in two innings of work in her first college start. O'Connell came in relief and shut the door on the Panthers striking out six in 2.1 innings.
On the weekend, Jones led CF with a team-high .750 batting average (6-for-8) while scoring five runs and driving in four. Blackburn, Cullop and Kelly each drove in five runs, while Lizzmore (6 runs scored, 4 RBI, 4 stolen bases) and Railey (5 runs scored, 5 stolen bases) were unstoppable on the base path.
In the circle, O'Connell only allowed two hits and struck out 13 in 6.1 innings of work.
CF will be back in action on Thursday for their home opener against State College of Florida. It will be a doubleheader at 2 and 4 p.m.