YOUNGSVILLE, La. — The No. 11 Blinn College softball team (2-1) opened the season with a pair of wins at the Chipola Invitational on Friday.
Blinn's first win of the season, a 7-6 victory over Lake Land College, marked Rick Church's 900th career victory in 23 seasons as a head coach.
Following the season-opening win, Blinn suffered its first loss to Odessa College, 9-6, but bounced back with a 12-3 victory (in five innings) over Snead State Community College to conclude the day.
"There was a lot of emotion riding on the first game because it meant a lot, and then there was a little bit of a letdown in the second game, but I was impressed with the way that we bounced back in our third game for the run-rule win," Church said. "Overall I am happy that we got two wins today and with the response we had after the loss."
Blinn 7 - Lake Land 6
Samantha Rodriguez hit a two-run triple to help lead the Buccaneers to a 7-6 win over Lake Land College in the season opener.
Renna Toomey earned the win in the circle after pitching a complete game and allowing six earned runs, while striking out two.
Smith drove in the first run for the Buccaneers with a single for Fernandez to score and Blinn to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Lake Land scored three runs in the bottom of the opening inning to lead 3-1 until the third inning when Blinn's Mikaela Lopez scored on an error.
Blinn continued to trail 3-2 until the fourth inning when Rodriguez hit a two-run triple for Italie Speziale and Gabi Lopez to score. Rodriguez scored on an error for the Buccaneers to finish the inning ahead 5-3.
Blinn added a run in the sixth inning when Gabi Lopez scored on a wild pitch to extend the Buccaneers' lead to 6-3.
The Lakers tacked on a run in the sixth inning, while Smith answered back with a run in the seventh inning on Lake Land's fourth error of the game for Blinn to lead 7-4.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Lakers rallied for two runs to gain on Blinn, 7-6, but the Buccaneers were able to record the final out for the win.
Odessa 9 – Blinn 6
Despite outhitting Odessa College by eight runs, the Buccaneers dropped their first game of the season, 9-6.
Alysa Torres went 4 2/3 innings only surrendering two hits and four earned runs.
The Buccaneers opened the game with a 3-0 advantage in the first inning as Smith hit a triple for Mackenzie Crews to score, Zibelin singled for Smith to score and Clarissa Hagler singled for Zibelin to score. However, in the bottom half of the inning, the Lady Wranglers evened the score 3-3.
Blinn took back a 4-3 lead when Mikaela Lopez scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Crews in the second inning. The Buccaneers held the lead until Odessa tied the game back up in the third inning.
The game remained tied 4-4 until the bottom of the fifth inning when the Lady Wranglers scored four runs to take the lead for good. They added another run in the sixth inning to stay on top 9-4.
Blinn rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning as Woodward hit a two-run single for Smith and Zibelin to score.
Blinn 12 - Snead State 3
The Buccaneers concluded the day with a run-rule victory over Snead State, 12-3 in five innings.
Toomey helped lead the Buccaneers to the win on both sides of the ball by driving in four runs, scoring two runs and recording her second win in the circle after tossing 4 2/3 innings and surrendering just three runs. Smith, Crews and Rodriguez also each scored two runs in the win.
Snead State evened the score in the second inning and scored one run in the third inning to take a 3-1 lead for a short time.
Blinn put together a five-run inning in the bottom of the third, starting with Toomey hitting a three-run homer. Marley Mahoney singled for Rodriguez to score and Mahoney scored the final run of the inning on a double by Reagan Majewski.
Blinn added another five runs in the fourth inning to lead 12-3. Emily Murphy drove in the first run with a single and Smith scored the second run on a fielder's choice. Murphy scored Blinn's 10th run on an error, and Majewski drove in Blinn's final two runs with a single.
The Buccaneers kept the Lady Parsons off the board in the fifth inning for the win.
Next, the Buccaneers will close out the Chipola Invitational on Saturday, Feb. 1, after they take on Midland College at 1:30 p.m. and No. 1 Chipola College at 3:30 p.m.
Blinn has competed in intercollegiate athletics since 1903 and captured 41 NJCAA national championships since 1987.