Perhaps still smarting from blowing a late four-run lead to Goleman in the district championship game a week earlier, the hangover was evident last week when the Miami Springs girls softball team traveled to Doral Academy for a Region 4-6A quarterfinal matchup against Doral.
In the most simple words Springs head coach Charlie Green could say afterwards, “if you don’t score, you can’t win.”
And that indeed was the case as Annie Palmerio threw a complete game shutout while ducking out of a few jams along the way as Doral defeated the Golden Hawks 6-0. And with that, another frustrating end to another season that, with one of Miami-Dade County’s best pitchers in Geneva Santos, seemed so filled with promise and yet ended in so much unfulfilled disappointment.
And once again, as was the case in the Goleman contest, gosh-awful baserunning along with misplays in the field and lack of clutch hitting absolutely killed Springs.
The tone of things to come came right off the bat in the top of the first when, after Geneva Santos led the game off with a double to left center and Crystal Ramos followed by reaching first and advancing to second on an error by the catcher, the Springs girls appeared ready to make an early statement with runners on second and third, no outs and their three, four, five hitters due up.
So what happens? Emily Santos strikes out looking, Tiffany Turman swings at the first pitch and pops out to shortstop before Geneva Santos, clearly frustrated by the lack off offensive support, tried to score from third on a wild pitch to the backstop but was tagged out at home ending the inning.
Thanks to a couple of key errors, Doral then plated two unearned runs in the bottom of the first and, with Palmeiro, pitching effectively, the Firebirds wouldn’t need another run the rest of the night.
“The tone clearly was set in that first inning where we get second and third with no outs and can’t score and they come back and put two unearned runs up on a couple of our errors,” said Green. “If you don’t take advantage of your opportunities when you have them early on, it catches up with you and that’s what happened to us.”
The one you had to feel the worst for was Geneva Santos herself. After having to watch two unearned runs cross the plate in the first, she began mowing down Doral batters like a buzz saw, striking out nine in a four-inning span including four in a row at one point.
But Springs just couldn’t dent the scoreboard. In the third, after Kristen Medina led the inning off with a base hit, tried to advance to third on a Ramos base hit to right. Despite Green giving her the stop sign from his third base coaches box, Medina rounded second, never slowed down and was easily cut down at third.
“You can only practice and teach them and show them so much,” said Green when asked about the baserunning woes after the game. “When you get in the game, they’re on their own.”
The pitching duel between Palmeiro and Springs’ Geneva Santos finally got blown open in the last of the fifth. After Palmeiro and Sydney Lageyre led off with back-to-back base hits, Grafals stepped up and launched a towering drive over the left center field fence to make it 5-0 and all but end the issue.
“The only mistake I made all night and I guess I paid for it,” said Geneva Santos who closed out a brilliant four-year career at Springs and will take her talents north to Jacksonville to play for the University of North Florida. “I left one out over the plate for her and she tagged it. It was good to make it this far but I just don’t think we were prepared for this game tonight.”
“I feel bad for Geneva, she pitched a great game tonight and kept us in it until she gave up that homer in the fifth inning,” said Green. “She’ll do very well in college, have a great college career and it’s been a pleasure coaching her.”