VERO BEACH -- Pembroke Pines Charter got the chance to rest and regroup before coming Sunday morning to resume its Class 6A state softball championship game.
But even with the respite, the Jaguars couldn’t figure out Lake City Columbia pitching.
Columbia sophomore Erin Anderson pitched 6 2/3 innings of a combined no-hitter with fellow sophomore Ashley Shoup as it dealt Pines Charter a 6-2 defeat at the Vero Beach Sports Village.
Pines Charter (21-4), which has made it to the state final four six times since 2004, fell a game short of winning back-to-back state titles. Columbia (28-4) won its first state championship.
“We’ve been a team throughout the year, and the kids did a remarkable job getting us back to this point,” Pines Charter coach Tom Fadul said. “We had trouble adjusting to their pitching [Saturday]. I thought the break would help us more than them, but it didn’t.”
The game resumed Sunday after a major thunderstorm Saturday night suspended the game with Columbia leading 3-0 in the fourth inning. Columbia added three runs in the top of the sixth. The Tigers took advantage of three Pines Charter errors and did most of their damage off the bats of junior Kayli Kivstad (two RBI) and freshman Tatum Morgan (three RBI).
“This wasn’t best lineup we’ve faced,” Claire Blount said. “It was nerve-wracking being in the final, and I think that’s more of a reason why we lost. We weren’t putting the bat on the ball.”
Anderson continued to shut down Pines Charter’s lineup until the sixth inning when the Jaguars finally broke through on the strength of a couple of walks off Shoup, who began the inning.
A wild pitch allowed Courtney Dart to score the first run for Pines. Bridget Blount drove in another run moments later on a sacrifice fly. But on the play, freshman Camila Lopez was caught in a rundown to end the inning.
Anderson came back for the seventh and retired the Jaguars to seal the outcome.
“Our team has gone through a lot of drama this season with injuries,” Bridget Blount said. “It was awesome to get back here. We’re going to build from it for next season.”
Pines Charter took solace in the fact it reached the state final for the second consecutive season despite hardships on and off the field. Blount matured into a reliable starter for the Jaguars after the graduation of star pitcher Cristina Sacramento. And the Jaguars won a tough 4-2 semifinal against Gainesville despite the absence of senior second baseman Victoria Gonzalez, who tore her medial collateral ligament in the regional final.
“It’s about team more than anything,” Fadul said. “We got here as a team and we lost as a team. But we’re very proud of what we accomplished.”