C.C. Rides Again: Moccasins Shut Out Saint Leo, 4-0
LAKELAND – Christine Clark took the field Friday night with her customary Elvis song, C.C. Rider, playing loud and clear, and what a beautiful ride it was for the Florida Southern Moccasins; and while there may have been a couple of bumps in the road, Clark eventually got them home with a win. Working around eight hits by Saint Leo, Clark pitched Florida Southern to a 4-0 win in the first of a 3-game Sunshine State Conference series.
Saint Leo (14-16, 2-2) had base runners in all but one inning, but every time Clark needed an out, she got it. What she also got was a lot of help from Karlyn Scott, whose 2-out RBI single in the bottom of the third gave Florida Southern (7-7, 1-3) its first run of the game, and her head's-up base-running in the fifth led to another Moccasin run.
The shutout was Clark’s first of the season and fifth of her career. The junior had a career-high eight strikeouts, none bigger than the final out of the fifth inning when she got Dianne Gonzalez on a called third strike that left the bases loaded. The Lions also left them full in top of the seventh after three straight singles put Clark under some pressure, but she got one of the league’s top hitters, Elysha Agen, to pop up for the final out of the game. It upped Clark’s record to 5-4 on the season.
Clark also had a hit and an RBI to help her own cause, but it was Scott who did the most damage. After Dani Blake reached on a one-out error in the bottom of the third and stole second, Scott singled through the left side of the infield with two out to bring her in.
Later, with the Mocs leading 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Scott drew a leadoff walk from Megan Still to force a Saint Leo pitching change. The new pitcher, Kristen Kelly, got Erin Foley to hit a slow roller to short, but Foley was able to beat the throw to first for an infield hit. Scott took second on the play, and seeing the Lions out of position after a brief hesitation, also took third. It proved to be crucial.
After a ground out put runners at second and third, Kelly got Clark to hit one back to the circle and threw her out at first; but while that was happening, Scott took off for the plate, and was able to slide around the tag to touch the back of the plate for a 4-0 lead.
In between the two big plays by Scott, the Moccasins also scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth. Khaliah Brown’s infield single turned into the first of those runs when Heather Raulerson drove a ball into the left centerfield gap for an RBI double. Pinch-runner Brandy Pikus would then score on an error.
With its three hits in the top of the seventh inning, Saint Leo ended up out-hitting Florida Southern, 8-5, but the Lions stranded nine runners and had another one called out after leaving first base too early on an attempted steal. Still took the loss, falling to 7-5, giving up four runs (two earned) on four hits and two walks in four-plus innings. Still and Kelly combined for just one strikeout.
Saint Leo got two hits apiece from Ashlee Sismilich and Diane Gonzalez at the top of the order.
The two teams will complete their 3-game series on Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader at 1:00.