The Patriots State Tournament unfortunately ended just as quickly as it started. After winning a playoff game against Miami Dade to reach the tournament, the Patriots dropped their first two games and were eliminated.
CF played St. Petersburg College in their tournament opener. It was a pitchers’ duel as each team could only score two in nine innings. St. Petersburg was able to pull away with the win in the 10th inning.
“In the first game we competed and played 10 innings and lost 3-2,” said Coach Marty Smith. “We played really well, pitched really well, just couldn’t get a clutch hit because their pitcher was good, but that was the same reason they couldn’t get a clutch hit because our pitching was good. They finally got their clutch hit with a single in the 10th and beat us.”
After losing their first game the Patriots were forced to play in an elimination game in which they needed to win to keep their tournament hopes alive, yet were unable to do so. The Patriots lost to Eastern Florida State College 10-6.
“In the second game we had one bad inning where they put a six spot up on us. Our pitcher warmed up an hour before the game because of the rain delay and he just hit a wall and they scored six runs off us,” said Coach Smith.
CF sophomore Luke Heyer was a key to the Patriots success this season and he felt that the team was trying to do too much. “I think we played average, we struggled because we were pressing. We were trying to do too much individually, when all we needed to do was the small things to win a game,” said Heyer.
Despite the outcome, making the tournament was an achievement on its own for the Patriots.
“It’s good, that’s your goal every year cause every team that gets there has a chance to win it,” said Coach Smith. “10 teams get there but only 1 goes home happy and 9 of them go home just like we did. Really pleased at what we did especially since we were 3-9 in the conference at one point and we really picked it up and played well at the end of the year and did what we needed to do to get to the tournament.”
It was an overall positive season for the Patriots, whose struggles at the beginning of the year didn’t affect how they finished the season.
“I would say it was an overall good season because of the adversity we had to overcome our rough start in conference, “said John Cassala. “I enjoyed our winning streak at the end of the season that got us that third place spot and the playoff game against Miami Dade, that we had to win to get into the state tournament.”
Story by: Brandon Wilson