VERO BEACH -- On Monday morning, St. Thomas Aquinas coach Bryan Baucom received news from the doctor that would put the wheels in motion to end a 10-year state title drought.
Junior left-hander Meghan King, who sustained a concussion on a freak accident the day after the Raiders dropped the District 16 final to Cooper City on April 18, was cleared to play.
King pitched a one-hitter, and junior shortstop Rachel Collins RBI double scored pinch-runner Erica Nori in the sixth inning as Aquinas captured the Class 7A championship with a 1-0 victory over Freedom (Tampa) on Thursday night at Vero Beach Sports Village.
The win came exactly a decade after the programs last title. The Raiders (22-5) also won in 2002.
The concussion was tough, but I knew I had to trust in my team that they would accomplish that and basically win it so we could all come back and play one more time with the seniors, King said.
During two state games, King (11-4) combined to toss 16 scoreless innings, giving up just four hits while striking out 13 batters.
From the second through the fourth innings Thursday, King struck out five of seven batters. She also walked a pair.
Meghan was unbelievable once again tonight, Baucom said. Shes a warrior. She was not going to come out of that game. Biggest thing I think is when Meghan went down our team didnt quit. It was a total team effort to get here, and luckily we got Meghan back and she finished it off for us.
Freshman catcher Madalyn Hall broke up the no-hitter with a leadoff single to center in the sixth for the Patriots (22-4). She would move up a base on senior second baseman Sunday Whitesides bunt as well as senior shortstop Caitlin Harpers groundout to third. King escaped the inning without any damage on a groundout to short.
Collins game-winning hit off senior Katlin Hall couldnt have happened without junior left fielder Katie Behms leadoff single.
Nori moved to second on junior pinch-hitter Morgan Biddles bunt and scored on Collins liner into the left-center gap on a 1-1 pitch.
Stepped up to plate thinking, This is my last at-bat I want to remember it in a positive way want it to be something I remember, said Collins, who finished 1 for 3. So I just gave it my all. Phenomenal feeling knowing that I helped my team with the possibly winning hit. Just surreal.
Especially because St. Thomas Aquinas ran itself out of the go-ahead run in the fourth on a squeeze play.
After junior catcher Gwen Svekis doubled to center as the leadoff batter, senior second baseman Samantha Sharkey advanced sophomore pinch-runner Jillian Healy to third with a bunt. Senior right fielder Stephanie Sobolewskis bunt, however, bounced right back to the pitcher, who threw home as the catcher applied the tag on Healy.
WP: Meghan King. LP: Katlin Hall