CLEARWATER-- The College of Central Florida softball team opened the season in dominant fashion on Saturday afternoon.
CF, ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 2 nationally, earned three wins in the JUCO Kickoff Classic in Clearwater.
The Patriots started the day off with a 7-1 win over Wallace (Ala.) State and followed it up with 10-5 victory over Hillsborough Community College. From there, the Patriots broke open a tie game with Gulf Coast State scoring five runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth for a 9-1 win.
CF pitcher Holly McKinnon was dominant in her first outing as a Patriot. The transfer from South Alabama allowed one run on one hit over seven innings. McKinnon walked four and struck out nine. She threw 110 pitches, 74 for strikes, with 21-of-28 batters receiving first-pitch strikes.
At the plate, Mariah Wise (2-for-5, run scored), Cheyenne Blaha (3-for-4, run scored, three RBI, two doubles), Autumn Hanners (2-for-4, four RBI, run scored, double, triple), Lindsay O'Steen (1-for-4, run scored), Kaylee Smith (1-for-2, run scored, RBI) and Sarah Heimbach (1-for-3, two runs scored) paced CF, who finished with four stolen bases.
In getting past HCC, the Patriots scored five times in the second inning, but saw the Hawks get to within two. From there, CF scored four times in the fourth to open things up.
Wise (RBI), O'Steen (2-for-4, run scored, two RBI), Blaha (1-for-4, double), Edrienne Williams (2-for-3, two runs scored, two RBI, home run), Deeandreaya Davis (1-for-4, run scored, triple), Kaylee Smith (3-for-4, two runs scored, two RBI) and Eryn Chester (1-for-4, run scored) led the Patriots in the second game.
In the circle, Autumn Hanners went all seven innings and allowed two earned runs on five hits. Hanners walked two and struck out six. She threw 148 pitches, 89 for strikes in the win.
The nightcap saw Hanners come up big at the plate, as her grand slam in the fifth helped CF score five times to snap a 1-all tie against Gulf Coast.
Williams (1-for-3, two runs scored, RBI), Smith (1-for-2, two runs scored) and Nicole White (1-for-2, RBI) were the standouts for CF in the finale.
Morgan Matthews pitched all six innings and allowed one run on four hits. She walked two and struck out five in the win.