Crunch time for the Goleman softball team came in the bottom of the sixth on Thursday morning. And when push came to shove, it was two sisters, Frances and Emily Santos, who answered the bell for the Gators.
Trailing American 3-2 in a Region 4-8A semifinal contest which had already been postponed twice, Frances came through with a bases-loaded, 2 RBI double down the left field line to give her team the lead. Emily then came up and drilled another double, this one down the right field line that brought in two more runs which paved the way for the Gators’ 7-3 victory at Goleman High School.
The win puts Goleman (19-8) into its second regional final in the last three years (they lost to Braddock in 2011) and the Gators will travel south to take on Coral Reef in a game that will be played on Friday morning at 11 a.m. at Coral Reef High School in an effort to beat the anticipated inclement afternoon weather.
Behind pitcher Vicky Morales, the Gators had been coasting through the first five innings. Having scratched across single runs in the first and third innings to stake her to a 2-0 lead, Morales retired 10 consecutive Patriot batters between the second and fifth while allowing just one hit through five innings.
But that all changed in the top of the sixth when American’s Michelle Murch led off with a double and Alexandra Fernandez brought her home with a single. A hit batsmen, throwing error, walk and bunt single led to two more runs and suddenly the Patriots had grabbed a 3-2 lead.
But singles by Angie Montalvo and Sharon Zamora to lead off the sixth, followed by a walk to Roni Ramjit loaded the bases setting the stage for the Santos sisters.
WP: V. Morales. LP: A. Rincon. Top performers: A. Montalvo 2-3, RBI. S. Zamora 2-3, RBI. E. Santos 2-3, 2 RBI. F. Santos 1-3, 2 RBI. M. Murch 2-4, S. Benitez 2-4
• Sheridan Hills Christian vs. Zion Lutheran (ppd.): After combining for 11 runs in just one inning, Thursday’s Region 4-2A playoff was postponed due to heavy rain and lightning with host Sheridan Hills Christian leading Zion Lutheran 6-5.
Zion Lutheran sent nine batters to the plate, scoring all five runs after two outs. Hannah Coelho ripped a bases-loaded two-run single to left to make it 3-0 before a fielding error at second allowed two more runs for the five-run lead.
The Sharks responded promptly as five consecutive batters reached base to start, including RBI singles by Grasy Gomez and Amanda Perry. Tiffany Fiorlli, in her second appearance at the plate, put Sheridan Hills ahead with a run-scoring single that scored Cassandra Dorla (walk).
Stranahan has announced the hiring of former Dragon Willie Hill as its new head coach on Thursday.
A former standout as a defensive back and track star at Stranahan, the 31-year-old Hill hopes revive a struggling program which is coming off a 3-7 season.
“This was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, and I had others,” said Hill, who will be moving from Clewiston and will be on the Stranahan faculty as a graphic photoshop teacher and head the STEM program (dual enrollment).
“My wife [Erin] and brother are Dragons, I come from a long line of Stranahan graduates,” Hill said. “I don’t see our program as struggling, as much as just having some down years. While I plan to keep most of the assistants, I am targeting some assistants positions to fill in with guys with college experience.”