Softball wins second consecutive SSC title

Softball wins second consecutive SSC title

SAINT LEO, Fla. – The 14th-ranked Saint Leo softball team won their second consecutive Sunshine State Conference title, third in five years, after posting a 17-7 record in conference. The Lions received help from a few other schools down the stretch to help clinch the title.

Saint Leo (37-13) won their final series over Rollins with two of their three games to push themselves atop of the SSC standings. The Lions headed into the final series tied with Tampa at 15-6, where Saint Leo added two games to the win column as the Spartans dropped two of three to Florida Southern.

With three weeks to play, the Tampa Spartans and Saint Leo Lions were at the top of the standings before the Spartans swept the Lions on April 12-13, 3-0 to have an upper hand for the last two weeks of play. Saint Leo had three remaining conference games, a series with Rollins, as Tampa had six games left, a series against Eckerd and Florida Southern. The Spartans managed to only win two of their final six games to finish with a 16-8 mark in the conference, good enough for second. Saint Leo defeated Rollins two games to one. 

Saint Leo blanked Rollins 7-0 Thursday night before freshman Amanda James was the hero in game one of the doubleheader. James hit a walk-off grand slam to win the game for the Lions, 12-8 before dropping the final game of the series 6-3.

The Sunshine State Conference softball title is the third in program history with the first coming in 2013. Last season the Lions came away with the title after posting a program-best 21-3 record in the SSC.

An automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament was at stake. The Lions, who are currently ranked No. 1 in the South Region, will receive the conference's automatic qualifier to the postseason.

Saint Leo is making their second straight appearance in the postseason where, in 2016 they got eliminated from play to eventual-National Champions North Alabama, 1-0.

The 37 wins mark the 17th time in program history the team has eclipsed 30 wins in a season and the 11th time they have recorded 35 or more wins.

Since returning to her alma mater, head coach Erin Kinberger has guided her teams to 37 wins or more in her third straight season. Kinberger has tallied 39-12 and 39-8 records in her first two seasons and looks to build on their 37-13 mark heading into the postseason.

Saint Leo will await the NCAA selection show on May 8th when the final regional rankings are released and the NCAA tournament bracket is announced, which will start at 10 a.m. The Lions will host a selection show viewing party in the lobby of the Student Community Center.

For more information on the Saint Leo softball program, visit SaintLeoLions.com.  Fans can also stay up-to-date on the latest Lions news by following Saint Leo Athletics on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube.

2017 Sunshine State Conference Softball Standings
Saint Leo // 17-7 // 35-13
Tampa // 16-8 // 29-12
Nova Southeastern // 15-9 // 27-24
Lynn // 12-12 // 26-22
Rollins // 11-13 // 29-24
Florida Tech // 11-13 // 26-25
Barry 10-14 // 23-28
Florida Southern // 8-16 // 17-24
Eckerd // 8-16 // 19-33