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Eastern Florida Suffers Softball Sweep but State Tournament Berth Still Possible

April 19, 2014 - Despite ending its regular season with consecutive sweeps at the hands of the best two teams in the Florida College System Activities Association Southern Conference the postseason is still a real possibility for Eastern Florida's softball team.

The Titans can earn their 10th trip to the state tournament in the last 10 seasons if Palm Beach State loses one game in its Monday doubleheader against Broward College. If that doesn't happen the Titans can advance by beating Palm Beach State in a one-game playoff at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Indian River State College in Fort Pierce.

Eastern Florida could have avoided the extra softball by winning one of two games in its home field doubleheader against Miami Dade College on Saturday but came up short, losing 3-2 and 10-2 in a mercy-rule shortened six-inning game.

The sweep dropped the Titans to 8-8 in Southern Conference. They now must await the result of Monday's make-up doubleheader between Palm Beach State College, which is 6-8 in conference, and Broward College, which is 0-14, to learn if they advance to the state tournament or face the one-game playoff.

The top three teams in each of the FCSAA's four conferences advance to the state tournament.

Miami Dade improved to 12-4 to tie Indian River State for first place in the conference. Miami Dade and Indian River State play Wednesday at Palm Beach State to decide the conference's top seed.

While Saturday's losses certainly cast a pall over the ending of the regular season that saw the Titans swept by Indian River and Miami Dade, assistant coach Bob Yanczewski stood firm in his season-long prediction about his team.

"I said right from the beginning and I'm going to say it right to the last out: we are going to the state tournament and I stand by that," Yanczewski said.

"There's no doubt in my mind that we will go. We lost four tough games. I thought all their (Titans) energy was used in that first game."

In Saturday's tightly played first game Miami Dade broke out to a 2-0 first-inning lead on Raquelli Bianco's two-run home run to right field off Eastern Florida starter Brooke Formby.

Eastern Florida rallied for a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the second on a walk, fielder's choice, singles by Hannah Denny, Harlee Gadley and Devin Williams with Gadley and Williams getting the runs batted in.

The tie stood for five innings as Miami starter Milena Manami Calixto and Eastern Florida reliever Dajia Jones dominated.

Calixto pitched out of a two runners on, one-out jam in the bottom of the sixth to preserve the tie and Miami Dade and Calixto broke it in the top of the seventh.

In the seventh Jones intentionally walked Bianco with a runner on second and two outs, bringing Calixto to the plate. Calixto proceeded to punch a single past Jones and the Eastern Florida infield for the decisive run.

Williams reached second with one out in the bottom of the seventh on a single and an error to give Eastern Florida hope but Calixto snuffed out the rally for the victory.

Eastern Florida rapped out nine hits with Williams getting three and Jones two for Eastern Florida.

In the second game Miami Dade got a two-out, three-run, first-inning triple from Sharon Zamora and never looked back. Sharks pitcher Bianco kept the Titans offense off balance as her teammates built leads of 4-0 and 5-1 before plating five more in the sixth for a 10-1 lead.

Eastern Florida managed just seven hits in the second game with Wiliams and Lopez getting two each. Miami touched Jones and reliever Formby for 12.

"They held their heads high, in the last inning they went down hitting," Yanczewski said of the Titans scoring a run on three hits.

"We'll wait and see. Tuesday's another day. As long as we've got Tuesday we're all right."

Saturday's doubleheader was the home finale for Eastern Florida sophomores Williams, Formby, Lopez and Seaman.

Eastern Florida finished regular season at 22-25 overall.