OCALA-- Throughout the first two games of the FCSAA Atlantic District Tournament, the College of Central Florida softball team has kept the pressure on its opponents and in both games its foes eventually snapped.
After putting Eastern Florida State away with a five-run sixth inning in a 10-1 win, the Patriots scored five times in the sixth of their 7-2 win over Seminole State to advance to the winner's bracket semifinals.
With the win, CF (41-12) will face rival Santa Fe (36-21) on Sunday afternoon at 3. The winner earns a spot in the Atlantic District Championship Round on Monday morning and would need just one win to qualify for a spot in the NJCAA National Tournament in St. George, Ut.
To get there, the Patriots' Jamie Nelson (15-2) checked Seminole on five hits over seven innings against, while Amy Szymanowski moved into second-place on the all-time state career home run list with her 35th career blast, which part of the five-run sixth.
Nelson, a Belleview High graduate, needed just 65 pitches to finish off the Raiders (32-28), who upset Indian River State, the nation's No. 1 ranked team, in the opening round. For the game, Nelson had three innings where she needed seven pitches or less to retire Seminole, which fell to 0-5 this season against CF and lost its sixth straight game to the Patriots dating back to last season.
"She really hit her spots and was in the groove," said CF coach Kevin Fagan, who has now led the Patriot softball program to its first 2-0 start ever at the state tournament. "She worked quick and (Szymanowski) did a great job of keeping her going.
"(Nelson) was very efficient and kept the ball down and did a great job."
Nelson improved to 3-0 this season against Seminole and allowed just one earned run in 19 innings. The sophomore allowed just two runs total against the Raiders on one hit. She walked just one batter and fanned nine during her three wins over Seminole.
CF trailed 1-0 heading into the fifth inning, but broke through for a pair of runs to take the lead for good on a two-run single by Jordan Lane with two outs.
After Nelson, who retired 16-of-18 batters at one point, got through a quick bottom of the fifth, things broke open in the sixth.
CF scored a pair of runs on errors, before Cheyenne Blaha and Lindsey O'Steen singled to set up Szymanowski, who blasted a three-run homer to center. It was the 19th homer of the season for the school single-season and career home run record holder and enabled her to pass former Seminole standout Kalee Tabor for second on the all-time state and Mid-Florida Conference list.
Szymanowski hit her fourth homer of the season against Seminole and gave the Patriots nine in five games against the Raiders for the year.
O'Steen (3-for-4, run scored), Blaha (1-for-3, run scored), Szymanowski (1-for-3, two runs scored, three RBI), Lane (1-for-4, two RBI), Jessica Nathan (1-for-3, run scored) and Caylee Underwood (two runs scored) led the Patriots at the plate.
CF will now look to knock off Santa Fe for multiple times for the first time in school history. The Patriots snapped a 12-game losing streak to the Saints with a 4-1 win in Ocala back in April.