Coral Reef’s softball team played Palmetto five times this season.
The rivals’ final meeting Wednesday was played at two different parks because of inclement weather.
The result was always the same.
In a game that began at Coral Reef High in the early afternoon and concluded in the evening at nearby Palmetto Bay Park, the Barracudas continued to thrive on their hitting and solid defense to beat Palmetto 18-8 in five innings in a Region 4-8A semifinal. Coral Reef has scored 33 runs in two regional playoff games and swept the season series against Palmetto for the first time, beating the Panthers by the 10-run mercy rule twice.
Coral Reef (25-2) advanced to its first regional final and will play either American or Goleman on Friday afternoon. That semifinal was postponed Wednesday because of heavy rain and is scheduled to be played Thursday at 11 a.m. at Goleman. Coral Reef would host Goleman or travel to American.
“We talked about it before the game, and they knew even though they had beaten Palmetto four times, if they won this one, their season would be a success,” Coral Reef coach Dario Rodriguez said. “We stuck to what we do best.”
Lightning in the vicinity of Coral Reef forced play to be stopped in the bottom of the first inning with the Barracudas leading 2-1 after back-to-back doubles by Cassandra Garcia and Carsyn Gordon.
After a delay of nearly an hour, the schools decided to suspend the game and try to resume at Palmetto Bay Park three hours later.
The weather subsided enough by that time, and the game continued there.
Coral Reef didn’t need to do anything drastic to maintain its focus.
“We were singing and jamming to music in the locker room,” shortstop Kylan Becker said. “Then we ate at Panera Bread and hung out for a little.”
And then the Barracudas picked up right where they left off.
Coral Reef scored six more runs in the first inning to take an 8-1 lead.
Palmetto (17-10) answered with a big second inning, however, scoring four runs to cut its deficit to 8-5. The Panthers added another run in the third.
But Coral Reef put the game out of reach in the bottom half of the inning, scoring eight more runs. The Barracudas capitalized on four Palmetto errors and totaled 14 hits, including five doubles.
Becker went 3 for 3 in the leadoff spot, and Gordon went 2 for 4 with four RBI.
Four Coral Reef players — Garcia, Amy Roach, Nicole Rilo and Lauren Blanco — went 2 for 3 with three RBI.
For Palmetto, Erin Love and Sam Marquez each hit solo home runs.
WP: Dayna Wilson. LP: Amanda Guglietta.
• Region 4-4A semifinal — Coral Springs Charter 13, Monsignor Pace 0: Led by a five-inning no-hitter by pitcher Heather Bramos and a 14-hit onslaught, Coral Springs Charter cruised to an easy victory over host Monsignor Pace in a game that started at noon in an effort to beat the anticipated inclement weather.
And with it, the Panthers (22-6) broke new ground as they advanced to their first regional final and will host defending state champion Gulliver Prep on Friday at 7 p.m. at Betty Stradling Park in Coral Springs.
“It’s been all about trying to get them to believe that they can play with the best teams,” said first-year Charter coach Mark Montimurro, who came over from University School after taking the Suns to the regional final in each of the past two years. “We won the Gulliver tournament earlier in the year and won district for the first time since 2005, so it’s all about taking steps, and [Wednesday] was another one.”
Bramos struck out seven and allowed just three Pace baserunners on two walks and a dropped third strike, while Brianna Stella (3 for 4, 2 RBI), Casey Huber (2 for 3, 4 RBI) and Megan Ashworth (3 for 3, 2 RBI) led the way offensively for Charter.
After scoring twice in the top of the first, the Panthers busted things open in the second when they sent 11 batters to the plate and scored five times, with a bases-loaded double by Huber being the big hit.
Pace finished 14-13.
WP: H. Bramos. LP: B. Heredia Top performers: B. Stella 3-4, 2 RBI, C. Huber 2-3, 4 RBI, M. Ashworth 3-3, 2 RBI
• Region 4-2A semifinal — Princeton Christian 18, Westwood Christian 3 (3): The rain held up but Princeton Christian’s offense did not in a rout of Westwood Christian.
The Panthers took advantage of a barrage of walks, wild pitches and passed balls to jump to a 6-1 lead at the end of the first inning. Warriors starter Anncrystle Joseph struggled to find the strike zone in the loss, walking 16 batters.
After scoring seven runs in two innings with just two hits, the Panthers offense came to life and ended it in the third, scoring 11 runs to win the game by knockout. Catcher Amanda Doering drove in the final run with her second RBI single of the inning.
Princeton Christian starter Courtney Cox picked up her 16th win of the season to help her team advance to the regional final, striking out two and walking none in three innings of work.
WP: Courtney Cox. LP: Anncrystle Joseph