Tallahassee - Tallahassee Community College won its first Panhandle Conference softball championship in 16 seasons on Saturday with a 7-1 game two victory over Gulf Coast State College.
Tallahassee's last PC championship came in 1998. Ironically, current head coach Patti Townsend was an assistant on that squad, which was coached by Maria Mendoza.
The Eagles, who claimed at least a share of the PC crown with Thursday's sweep against Pensacola State College, needed one win or one Northwest Florida State College loss over either team's final four games to lock up the outright championship. With the second-place Raiders idle on Saturday, Tallahassee's destiny was in its own hands.
Tallahassee watched a 3-1 lead slip away in the opener when Gulf Coast State scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth en route to a 7-5, come-from-behind victory. That postponed the Eagles' championship celebration, but only momentarily.
In game two, Mariah Rivera pitched a one-hitter and Alexis Huss hit her second home run of the day in the clincher.
Rivera walked only one and carried a no-hitter to the seventh before giving up a leadoff single to Megan Griffith. She struck out five while improving her record to 17-5.
Gulf Coast State plated an unearned run in the first but the lead was short-lived.
Brenda Santana led off the second with a solo home run to tie the game, and the Eagles played long ball again in the third to bust the game open.
With two runners on and the go-ahead run already on the board, Huss drilled a three-run shot to center, scoring Danielle Patterson and Ashley Heath-Smith, to give Tallahassee a 5-1 lead.
Te Reo Powhiri Matautia singled home a run in the fourth and Patterson drew a bases-loaded walk in the fifth to push the Eagles' lead to 7-1 and complete the scoring.
After giving up the first-inning run, Rivera retired the next 11 batters she faced and allowed only one base runner until Griffith's leadoff single in the seventh.
Huss was 2-for-4 with three RBI while Taesha DuBoise was 3-for-4 and scored two runs, helping the Eagles outhit Gulf Coast State, 10-1.
Tallahassee enjoyed a 13-8 advantage in hits in the opener, but the Commodores used a big fifth-inning rally to pull out the 7-5 victory.
Huss' solo homer in the second gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead and they eventually led 3-1 but Gulf Coast State sent ten batters to the plate in the fifth against Tallahassee starter and losing pitcher Ashley Dobson.
After tying the game at 3-all, Brittany Wylie's fielder's choice with the bases loaded scored Anna Martin with the go-ahead run. The next batter, Holly Brown, cleared the bases with a triple to give the Commodores a 7-3 lead.
Tallahassee didn't go down without a fight, however, loading the bases with just one out in the seventh. Karley Yeager's ground out scored Dominique Davis, and Marina Cobbs' singled plated Shelby Manns but DuBoise grounded out to second to end the game.
Brianna Murillo led the Eagles offensively with a 3-for-4 effort. Huss was 2-for-3 and Cobbs was 2-for-4.
Tallahassee will host Chipola College on Wednesday in the Panhandle Conference finale. Game one begins at 4 p.m.