Two decorated softball programs squared off in a classic on Saturday night when defending Class 6A state champion Pembroke Pines Charter hosted Naples High School in a Region 4 championship game.
And when it was over, it was the Pines Charter Jaguars storming the mound in celebration following their 2-0 victory over the Golden Eagles. And with it, Pines Charter will head to its sixth state final four in the last 10 years and take on either Eau Gallie or Gainesville on Friday at the Vero Beach Sports Village.
“I can’t be more proud of our girls the way they battled tonight,” said Jaguars coach Tom Fadul, who saw his team improve to 20-3. The Jaguars scored their two runs with two outs in the third. Kayla Borges and pitcher Claire Blount both singled and Courtney Dart walked to load the bases. Camila Lopez then hit a grounder to shortstop and the ball was mishandled.
Then Bridget Blount hit another grounder to short and when the shortstop threw to third for what would have been the inning-ending forceout, the third baseman’s foot was not on the bag and another run was scored. That was all Blount would need as she settled down and retired the side in order in three of the last four innings.
WP: C. Blount (16-3). LP: H. Pinterich. Top performers: C. Blount 1-3, C. Dart 1-2, B. Blount 1-3, A. Rotunno 1-3.
• Region 4-5A final — Plantation American Heritage 5, Lemon Bay 1: For a pitcher who struck out 11 in a big game, right hander Jenna Goodrich seemed a littler harder on herself than she should have been.
“It was all on me in that second inning when [Lemon Bay] scored,” Goodrich said, recalling how the game had been tied at 1-1. “I just hung the ball out there. But the change-up was definitely my go-to pitch after that.”
After that, the sophomore transfer from Archbishop McCarthy and the rest of her American Heritage teammates took control and breezed over Lemon Bay.
Leadoff hitter Dakota Villella started it off with an infield bunt single. Two batters later, cleanup hitter Ashley Belans reached on a walk.
With two outs and runners and second and third, freshman Melissa Rini smacked a two-run triple off the center-field fence to put the Patriots ahead for good. An alert Rini later scored during a failed rundown of another runner to make it 4-1.
The Patriots (22-4) will face St. Johns County Creekside in next week’s final four round in Vero Beach.
WP: Goodrich (14-2). LP: Carvey (22-3)
• Region 4-3A final — Delray American Heritage 2, Westminster Christian 1: The Warriors stranded 12 base runners, including their failure to convert on a one-out, bases-loaded situation costing them a chance to unseat defending state champion American Heritage-Delray in a loss at American Heritage.
The Stallions (20-6) got all the runs they would need in the fourth inning on an Ashley Niesman two-run home run to center field. They advance to next week’s state final four to face Montverde at Vero Beach.
WP: Bagess (13-3). LP: Kleis (18-5)