A 27-hit offensive explosion powered Central Florida to its first Mid-Florida Conference sweep of the season on Tuesday as the Patriots beat St. Johns River 7-2 and 5-1.
After starting the conference schedule with 6 losses, the Patriots (13-26, 4-10 MFC) are 4-4 in their last 8 conference games. That stretch of .500 ball has placed CF square in the state tournament conversation as the regular season approaches its final act.
Jessica McClellan's 2-run home run and 3 RBIs powered the Patriots in a 12-hit early game. Kylie Ondriezek went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI, Megan David went 3-for-4 and scored twice and Katie Hayes and Erin McMahan added a hit and an RBI each. Staff ace Megan Still allowed 7 hits and struck out 5 to earn the victory.
CF pounded out 15 hits in the late game as Jordan Rambo pitched a complete-game 3-hitter for her first win of the season. Jessica Chewning put CF on the board with a 3-run home run in the third, one of two hits on the day for sophomore, and her teammates poured on the hits in support. McMahan went 3-for-4, while Belinda Rennes, Jennifer Hunter, McClellan and Hayes had 2 hits apiece.
While the sweep is a confidence boost for CF, it also has more tangible effects. With their two wins and a pair of losses Tuesday by Lake-Sumter, the Patriots move out of a sixth-place tie with St. Johns River and into a tie for fifth place with Lake-Sumter at 4-10 in the conference standings. That's significant because the MFC's top five teams will qualify for the FCCAA State Tournament next month. In effect, Tuesday's sweep positions CF as a meaningful player in the postseason race with only 10 games left to settle the issue.
Thursday brings an opportunity for the Patriots to earn a couple of valuable wins at home, as they host Seminole at 2:30 p.m. That doubleheader is the second-to-last home date of the conference schedule; CF hosts first-place Santa Fe in its home conference finale on April 15.