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GC WEEKLY: Softball goes 8-2 in Florida Space Coast Spring Games trip

Mar. 11—The Goshen softball team closed out their ten games in Florida with a 7-4 win over Florida National and a 3-0 loss to St. Thomas last Friday, improving to 11-3 on the young season.

This strong start is a good sign for what looks like a promising 2024 campaign.

Part of the Leaf's successful road trip involved two walk-off victories as part of the eight wins GC came home with.

The softball team sat 8-5 after last year's trip to Florida. This year's improved team is leaps and bounds ahead of where they were last season and their performance hasn't come without hard work. Senior team captain and catcher, Kyra Wilson, shares their mindset preparing for the games in Florida.

"The mentality that was going on in the team's head was to go to work, have fun, bond more with each-other and support each other," Wilson said. "We wanted to work in silence and shock everyone again."

The Maple Leaf's hard work and tenacity showed the most in the two walk-off games. The first walk-off was against Michigan-Dearborn on Feb. 26.

Three innings in, it looked to be a pitcher's battle between Hannah Koch of Michigan-Dearborn and sophomore Esme Pico of Goshen, with no runs scored for either team. With an RBI single in the top of the fourth and another RBI triple in the sixth, the Wolverines took a 2-0 lead.

Goshen scored three in the bottom-half of the inning but Dearborn knotted the game at three in the seventh, sending the game to extras.

Michigan-Dearborn went down 1-2-3 once more in the ninth inning via two groundouts and a swinging strikeout. Senior Olivia Gibson led the way for Goshen as they advanced to the bottom of the ninth inning. A passed ball moved Gibson to third, allowing sophomore Ella Mcleod to hit a sacrifice fly to center, sending Gibson home in time to score the game-winning run.

"We tried to control what we could control, and those were the big plays," Wilson said. "All we had to do was put the ball and play and do the little things right and that's how we became successful."

Their second walk-off came shortly after their first, during their game on Feb. 28 against Florida memorial. The game was back and forth and the Maple Leafs went onto the diamond in the top of the eighth to decide the tiebreaker.

The Lions of Florida Memorial came up big with two runs batted in to make the score 4-2 going into the bottom of the eighth.

Goshen started with a flyout, followed by a Gibson walk with Rachel Kates already on second. Ella Mcleod came up with a hit to score Kates to make the score 4-3 with two outs. Shea VanScoter came up to the plate and hit a single to left field that scored two runners to allow the Maple Leafs the walk-off 5-4 victory.

"I think that there were lots of key moments from a number of players," junior team captain Alyssa McDonald said. "In close games Shea VanScoter was able to drive in game winning runs."

The softball team ended spring break on a high note and plan to continue their mindset throughout the rest of their season. The Maple Leafs' home opener on Tuesday saw the Leafs move to 13-3 on the season with a doubleheader sweep of Bethel.

GC's Carissa Fillingame hit a three-run homer to walk-off the Pilots 8-7 in the first game, coming back to win 8-0 in six innings in the return game. The Leafs continue with conference play this week, hosting Huntington in a doubleheader on Wednesday.

Reach Matt Lucas at 574-533-2151, ext. 240325, or at matt.lucas@goshennews.com.