Senior Emily Rodriguez, thrown out at the plate in what could have been a crucial play earlier in the game, came back to start the winning rally in extra innings as Palmetto eliminated Southwest 6-4 Thursday in the Region 4-8A quarterfinal at Palmetto Bay Park.
“I’m not that fast — I’m a catcher,” a smiling Rodriguez said of the play at home, which left the score tied 4-4 in the sixth inning.
“But when I got thrown out, I was ready to cry. This could have been my last game. For me to be the reason we lost, that would’ve killed me.”
Instead, Palmetto (17-9) took advantage of a pair of errors by Southwest (19-7) to win the game with two runs in the top of the eighth.
Palmetto overcame a monster game by Southwest shortstop/cleanup hitter Alex Castellanos, who hit two home runs and had three RBI to propel the Eagles to a 4-2 lead after three innings.
One of her homers went over the scoreboard in right field, and the even bigger blast cleared the 200-foot center-field fence by about 50 feet, sailing over the batting cages.
Still, this was the fifth time since 2005 that Palmetto has ended Southwest’s season. Southwest eliminated Palmetto just once during that span.
With Thursday’s win, Palmetto advances to play Tuesday at 4 p.m. in a regional semifinal against Coral Reef, which is 4-0 against the Panthers this season.
“[Coral Reef is] really good,” said Rodriguez, a four-year starter who led Palmetto to last year’s state final. “But it doesn’t matter if we are 0-4 or 0-20 — I think we can beat them.”
• Region 4-6A quarterfinal — Mater Academy 11, Archbishop McArthy 10: After their baseball team won its first district title in school history earlier in the day, the Mater Academy Lions softball team had a little drama saved up of their own.
After giving up eight runs in the top of the first to heavily favored Archbishop McCarthy, Mater (16-7) put on a remarkable comeback to pull out a victory at Bucky Dent Park in Hialeah. The Lions will have an even taller mountain to climb on April 30 when they host defending state champion Pembroke Pines Charter at 7 p.m. at Bucky Dent Park in a regional semifinal contest.
“I have some amazing teammates because I was really down when I came into the dugout after that first inning,” said sophomore pitcher Alexis Castroman. “To come back from a start like that shows you the amazing determination and heart of our team.”
Mater immediately answered the Mavericks eight run first with six runs of their own in the bottom half before tying it with two more in the second on a two run homer by Ibis Abreu. The game was tied at 10 in the fifth when Michelle Oliva scored from third on a deep fielders choice deep groundout to shortstop by Abreu.
McCarthy (16-8) was led by Kaitlyn Ortagus who homered twice including a grand slam shot in the eight run first.
WP: A. Castroman (6-2) LP: J. DePalo Top performers: A. Guzman 3-4, I. Abreu 2-4, HR, 3 RBI.
• Region 4-6A quarterfinal – Pines Charter 16, Westland Hialeah 0: Pembroke Pines Charter (18-3) scored eight runs in the first and second innings as the Jaguars defeated visiting Westland Hialeah in three innings.