OCALA-- The College of Central Florida softball team split with Hillsborough Community College of Tuesday evening in Tampa.
FCSAA No. 3 CF (12-3) was down 6-3 after three innings before powering past Hillsborough with six runs in the fifth and 12 runs in the sixth, including three homers, to rally past the Hawks 22-6 (6 innings) in game one. In game two, HCC won in walk-off fashion with a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh to rally past the Patriots 12-11.
In game one, sophomore outfielder Olivia Pope recorded the first of three home runs with a three-run shot in the sixth. An inning later, sophomore first baseman Tiffany Steczo delivered a grand slam and freshman third baseman third baseman Riley Baxter capped off the 12-run inning with a two-run homer of her own to help CF complete the rally.
Pope finished the game 4-for-5 at the plate with four RBI and three runs scored, while Steczo (2-for-4) drove in six runs, and Baxter (3-for-3) knocked in five.
Freshman pitcher Kelsie Rivers picked up the win, allowing four earned runs on eight hits in five innings of work.
The Patriots looked to rally again in game two.
Down 10-2 after four innings, the Patriot offense plated seven runs in the top of the fifth and drove in two more in the top of the seventh to take its first lead of the game, 11-10.
In the bottom of the seventh, CF made its fourth pitching change of the game, bringing back game one starter Rivers to close it out. Rivers delivered a four-pitch walk to the Hawks leadoff batter before HCC's Dom Mannerino walked it off with a two-run homer to lift the Hawks past the Patriots.
Sophomore outfielder Elaina Lukas (1-for-3, two runs scored) and infielder Gretchen Ebert (1-for-3, two runs scored) each recorded home runs, while Pope stayed hot at the plate going 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Pope finished the doubleheader 8-for-10 with six RBI, five runs scored and a home run.
CF will be back in action on Friday when it hosts St. Petersburg College for a doubleheader at 2 and 4 p.m.