National runner-up No. 4 West Florida picked up right where they left off in 2019, beating No. 9 Florida Tech 11-2 on Saturday, in the Gulf Shores Invitational. It was the second loss on the day for the Panthers, who fell 5-4 to Lubbock Christian University earlier in the day.
Raychel Trocki (0-1) started against Lubbock Christian, and she was right back out there to take on the Argos. Kelsey Sweatt (1-0) got the start for UWF.
The Panthers (0-2) who committed four errors in the earlier game, were bitten again in the third inning of this game. With one out, Grace Gilbert hit a ball that was misplayed, allowing her to reach first. After a groundout moved Gilbert to second, Jacquelynne Poling doubled home a run, and Ally Merrill followed with an RBI single, giving the Argos a 2-0 lead.
That error was the Panthers’ only one, but it proved costly. Trocki was done after three innings, allowing five hits with both runs being unearned. She struck out three and walked one.
Jordan Lawlis was called on to start the fourth for the Panthers. After getting two quick outs, a single and a stolen base by Kayla Mayo, Teala Howard knocked her in. Gilbert would strike again with a single, getting her second RBI of the day, and giving West Florida a 4-0 lead.
Florida Tech would get one run back in the bottom of the fifth. Katrina Hand singled and later scored on a base hit by Cheyenne Nelson. With that, it was 4-1
The Argos (1-0) added two more runs in the sixth on a two-run single by Gilbert. They would knock the Panthers out of contention in the top of the seventh. Mallory Vining’s RBI single made it 7-1, and Mayo followed with a two-run double. Howard singled to make it 10-1.
Coach Val Silvestrini went out to get Jordan Lawlis, bringing Trocki back in. She gave up an RBI double to Gilbert, making it 11-1.
The Panthers did not go down without a fight. Vanessa Rubio was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Alexis Clark followed with a bases-loaded walk, making it 11-2. Argos relief pitcher Megan Warhurst got the final out and earned the two-inning save.
For more info: West Florida @ Florida Tech Box Score
The Panthers will wrap up their stay in Gulf Shores on Sunday, taking on Valdosta State at 10:00 a.m.