VERO BEACH- The College of Central Florida's softball team got off to a quick start in its bid to return to the national tournament.
The Patriots opened the FCSAA State Tournament with wins over Tallahassee Community College and Polk State by scores of 7-2 and 8-2 respectively on Friday afternoon.
CF (53-7) advances in the winner's bracket and will face Chipola on Saturday at noon.
Earlier this season, the Patriots knocked off the Indians in Marianna.
To move closer to its second straight trip to the national tournament, CF rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the first inning of its opener against TCC and avenged last year's loss in the state championship game.
The Patriots tied the Eagles with two runs in their half of the first and then took the lead for good with a run in the fourth.
From there, CF scored four times in the fifth and pulled away from the Eagles, who they swept by scores of 3-2 and 3-0 earlier this season.
Against TCC, Mariah Wise (2-for-3, run scored), Eryn Chester (1-for-3, run scored), Taylor Morrow (1-for-3, two runs scored, RBI, triple), Cheyenne Blaha (2-for-3, run scored, two RBI) and Lindsay O'Steen (1-for-2, run scored, two RBI) led the way for CF.
Holly McKinnon allowed two runs on two hits and struck out eight in going the distance for her second win of the year against TCC
The Patriots followed up their win over TCC with its fourth win in six meetings this season with Polk State.
CF jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but saw Polk claw to within one run.
The Patriots then opened things up late for the second straight game, as they scored three times in the sixth and twice in the seventh.
Autumn Hanners earned the win by going seven innings and allowing two runs on five hits. She walked three and struck out three.
Morrow (2-for-4, run scored, RBI, double), Hanners (2-for-4, two doubles), Blaha (1-for-3, two runs scored, double), O'Steen (1-for-4, two runs scored), Kylie Holton (1-for-3, RBI, double) and Jordan Lane (1-for-2, RBI) led the way for CF in the win over Polk.