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Softball, golf prepare for national tournaments

The Seminole State softball team poses at the FCSAA State Tournament during its run to a state championship victory.
Elia Folch

The weekend of April 27 was a historic one for Seminole State athletics as the Raiders won crucial in-state tournaments in both softball and women’s golf and qualified to compete in National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national championship tournaments.

On Saturday, the women’s golf team beat two-time defending national champion Daytona State College at the NJCAA Region VIII Championship – and it wasn’t even close. Seminole State shot 26 strokes better than Daytona State, with a two-day stroke count of 604 (302-302) to 630 (617-613). This is the first time the Raider women’s golf program, which has existed only since 2007, has ever beaten Daytona State.

Each of the Lady Raiders shot below her season average – and no golfer shot a round of more than 80 strokes. The Raiders were led by All-American Elia Folch, who was ranked the No. 3 individual NJCAA golfer in the country before the tournament and shot consecutive rounds of 70, her best scores of the season. Following the win, the Raiders are ranked No. 3 in the nation by the NJCAA – one slot ahead of Daytona State – and they are eligible for the first time ever to send a full team of five golfers to the NJCAA Women’s Golf National Championship in Daytona Beach May 14-17.

Kiley Mettler also shot both rounds under 80 and qualified for the national tournament as an individual.

Then on Sunday, the Raider softball team played three consecutive games to cap off a championship run at the Florida College System Activities Association (FCSAA) State Tournament. Seminole State played a doubleheader against conference rival Santa Fe College for the Atlantic Division title, dropping the first game but winning the elimination game 8-2.

Immediately after clinching the division title, Seminole State played a third game, this time against Gulf Division champion State College of Florida (Manatee). With the Raiders down 2-3 late in the game, Jessica Gipson knocked a two-run home run to give the team a 4-3 lead it never relinquished. Both Seminole State and State College of Florida qualify for the NJCAA Softball National Championship in St. George, Utah, May 17-19.

Seminole State pitcher Lauren Vinson, outfielder Kristie Hoeffer, and infielders Kalee Tabor and Jessica Gipson were named to the FCSAA All-Tournament Team. The four also received Atlantic District All-Tournament honors, along with catcher Jordan Cook and utility player Rachel Sherman.

Several softball players also received honors for the full season, as the All-FCSAA and All-Mid-Florida Conference (MFC) teams were announced. Sophomore infielder Kalee Tabor led the way, garnering the top distinction of Player of the Year and an All-FCSAA nod. Jordan Cook, Lauren Vinson, Kristie Hoeffer and Jessica Gipson also received statewide honors. In addition, those players received all-conference recognition along with Lindsey Nolan.

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