Juco softball | Depleted SCF hangs tough, salvages doubleheader split

Blown out in 1st game, injury-riddled team salvages split

jdill@bradenton.comMarch 15, 2013 

BRADENTON -- The pitchers weren't finding the strike zone, the defense was committing costly errors, and the bats were quiet.

But despite suffering the end of a seven-game winning streak, the State College of Florida Manatees weren't finished Thursday.

SCF might have dropped the opener 12-2 to visiting Tallahassee Community College, but the Manatees (25-9) made the adjustments needed for a turnaround in salvaging a split with the Eagles.

A big reason for their 3-0 second-game victory was former Manatee High standout Taylor O'Quinn.

Head coach Meredith Headings said she doesn't like throwing a freshman on the mound right away.

It's something she did last season with star pitcher Paige Mathews, who was thrust into the No. 1 role following an injury to Chelsea Oglevie in 2012 and became a first-team junior college All-American.

But Mathews won't be taking the pitcher's circle anymore this season. She recently broke her right wrist and was ruled out for the remainder of the year Wednesday.

So that meant O'Quinn was given the chance to shine in the final home game prior to Suncoast Conference action getting under way next week.

Working both sides of the plate, O'Quinn limited the Eagles' powerful lineup to just three hits in a complete-game victory. She struck out four batters, walked two and hit two.

"I was definitely trying to work the corners, keep it low, off-speed," O'Quinn said.

It was quite the turnaround from the first game, when SCF pitchers gave up 12 runs on 10 hits and the defense committed four errors.

"We were pressing and we tried making something happen, instead of just playing our game," said Ashley Burney, the reigning NJCAA Region 8/FCSAA Softball Player of the Week.

In Game 2, Burney smacked a first-inning two-run home run to arm O'Quinn and the Manatees with an early lead.

Later, catcher Kat Penn launched a solo homer over the center-field fence that tacked on an insurance run in the fourth inning.

But O'Quinn didn't need it. She escaped a fourth-inning jam with three comfortable innings to close out the win.

That fourth-frame jam

saw O'Quinn induce back-to-back popouts with a runner on third and the tying run on second base.

"Just stay calm, because when you freak out, that's when it all goes downhill," O'Quinn said.

Penn finished 2-for-2 and reached base in all three plate appearances to lead SCF's offense in the second game. Penn's performance also came at a crucial time for the Manatees as Crystal Cyr (.420 batting average) recently broke her ankle and is out for the season, too.

Two other Manatees swung the bat effectively in the lopsided first-game loss.

Former Manatee High standout Cindy Micochero (2-for-2) and Jaice Metherall (double) provided three of SCF's four hits. The first game ended in five innings due to the eight-run mercy rule.

"Two significant blows, but we'll come together," Headings said. "I'm glad it happened now, so we had a chance to adjust and grow prior to postseason."

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