Saint Leo notebook: Softball captures first conference title
ST. LEO -
Overcoming a choppy start to the Sunshine State Conference season, Saint Leo’s softball team used an incredible run over the final six weeks of the regular season to claim the SSC title this past weekend.
After starting the conference schedule 3-3, the Lions finished with wins in 17 of their past 18 conference contests, culminating in a three-game sweep of Florida Southern.
It is Saint Leo’s first conference title, and it will likely catapult the Lions to one of the top seeds in the NCAA South Regional. Selections and host sites for that event will be revealed on Monday at 11 a.m. The ncaa.com website will have a live selection show.
The Lions were fifth in the latest installment of the regional rankings, released Wednesday. And oddly, after securing the title, Saint Leo dropped two spots in the national rankings to No. 24. Tampa, despite finishing a game behind Saint Leo in the league standings, is ranked 10th nationally and fourth in the region.
It means Tampa and Saint Leo are likely to face each other in the first round.
Meanwhile, the Lions received their trophy on Thursday after their morning practice.
Tennis teams eliminated The women’s tennis team lost in the championship match to No. 9 West Florida 5-0 on Tuesday, while the men’s team was upended by Barry 5-0 in its region final on Monday.
Both postseason runs were considered successes for the Lions. The women finished 18-6 in dual matches while the men were 16-7.
Golfers to championship Women’s golfer Clare Connelly and men’s golfer Nick Brothers will represent Saint Leo at the Division II men’s and women’s golf super regionals.
Connelly is set to tee off on Sunday from the Lone Palm Golf Club in Lakeland. Brothers will begin play on Monday at Mission Inn Resort and Club in Howey-in-the-Hills.
Both are competing as individuals, making their qualifications more difficult to advance to the national finals. Only the top two individuals not on a qualifying team advance to that event, which will be played from May 20-24 in Hershey, Penn.
Baseball keeps pace With one weekend to go in the regular season, Saint Leo remains in the top eight in the regional rankings, eyeing a shot at postseason play.
The Lions (32-14-1, 11-9-1 SSC) took two of three games from Lynn last weekend. They rallied from a 9-1 deficit to beat Eckerd 15-12 in a non-conference midweek match-up.
They are seventh in the rankings and fourth in the SSC. They face Florida Southern in a three-game series this weekend. Friday’s game was not complete at press time, and today’s doubleheader on campus begins at 1 p.m.
Correspondent Bart O’Connell can be reached at email@example.com. He can be followed on Twitter @BartOTrib.