Even though it was only about 100 yards or so, the walk from the softball field at Slade Park in Hialeah to the awaiting bus must have seemed like two miles for members of the Miami Springs High School girls softball team last Tuesday afternoon.
Not only had their District 14-8A semifinal contest against Goleman just ended, but the Lady Hawks’ season had come to a stunning end as well following the Gators 6-5 victory. Slowly, many of them with moist eyes, a few more sobbing, the Springs girls trudged their way to the bus.
A season filled with so much hope back in early February, one that had brought back every returning starter but one from the year before, arguably the best pitcher in the county in Geneva Santos and even talk of a run to the state final four in Vero Beach, had come to an end long before it was expected to end.
A season that had brought a first-ever victory over traditional county power Palmetto in late February and the excitement of head coach Charlie Green notching in 400th career victory in early March was finished.
“Words can’t describe how frustrated and awful I feel right now,” said a sobbing Carolina Acosta who had just seen her four year career at Springs, all as a starter at third base, come to an end. “You work so hard for four years and you just feel like there’s no justice to see it end like this. What an awful feeling.”
There will be no matchup with Coral Gables in the district championship game as had been the case each of the last three years as Springs failed to reach the district championship game (and thus be guaranteed a trip to the regional playoffs) for the first time since 2005. It also marked only the second time since 1998 Springs will not be part of the regional playoffs.
“It’s just so disappointing, especially because we started off the season so well with a quality win over Killian and then beating Palmetto for the first time,” said Green. “Everything appeared to be there but for whatever reason we just could not beat them (Goleman) during the season and it wound up costing us.”
Green spoke of a pair of regular season losses to the Gators including a crucial blown game on Feb. 21 at Virginia Gardens Field in which the Lady Hawks had a two run lead with two outs and two strikes in the last inning only to see Goleman rally to win.
That loss, followed by a 5-2 defeat at Goleman’s field on March 21, wound up costing Springs a first place finish in the district. Instead they were left in a three-way tie with Goleman and Gables for first (Springs defeated Gables twice and Gables beat Goleman twice leaving all three teams deadlocked) prompting a “drawing-numbers-from-the-hat” scenario which did not go Springs’ way as they drew the low number of the three.
With a top-heavy district featuring three good teams in Springs, Goleman and Gables and three struggling programs in Miami Beach, Miami High and Reagan, the importance of finishing first was driven home a few hours after the Springs loss. That’s when top-seeded Gables took the field against No. 4 seed Miami Beach and mowed down the Hi-Tides 14-0 in a mercy-rule shortened game.