Gwen Svekis is already planning on crying Thursday afternoon when she practices with her St. Thomas Aquinas softball teammates on campus for the final time.
The senior catcher hopes to be crying Saturday as well — during a second consecutive state championship celebration.
“It’s always so sad at the end of the year,” Svekis said. “I’m a very emotional person. I cried at Senior Night, cried at our last game here. I'm going to cry again Thursday. I can't stand the thought of leaving this team.”
Svekis and the Raiders head to the state final four for Friday’s semifinal against Cantonment Tate at the Dodgertown complex in Vero Beach.
A win over Tate would likely bring a rematch of last year’s state semifinal against Harmony and top-end pitcher Aleisha Ocasio. Svekis scored in the bottom of the ninth to lift Aquinas to a 1-0 win over Harmony last year after Ocasio struck out 11.
Aquinas (28-2) has won three state titles in its fast-pitch softball history. Svekis would like to be the second team to win back-to-back titles, matching the championship runs of 2002 and 2003.
It would be a huge send off to a talented senior class. All nine seniors plan to play in college next year with Svekis headed to Oregon and pitcher Meghan King off to Maryland.
“Last year we won for the first time in 10 years and those teams won back-to-back,” said Svekis, one of seven seniors in the starting lineup. “Winning two straight would definitely be big for us and the school.”
Aquinas coach Bryan Baucom wasn’t very happy after last week’s 2-0 regional final win at Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer as the Raiders scored twice in the top of the first and then did little else offensively.
The Raiders have lost two games this year, both losses — one to American Heritage, the other to Lake City Columbia — by 1-0 scores.
If Aquinas can score some runs, that fourth state title could be coming back south to Fort Lauderdale.
“We feel good about things, they’ve practiced good and know what is ahead of them,” said Baucom, in his 20th season as softball coach at Aquinas.
“We’re pretty lucky here to have a great group of kids. When it’s over — win or lose — it’s going to be tough to lose them. They went through some heartbreak the first two years then got the ultimate feeling last year. And now they have the opportunity to do that again. It's exciting.”
• Cardinal Gibbons: Baseball — Nick Ferngren has committed to Rhodes University; Boys’ soccer — Nicholas Ketchum has signed with Bryant University; Girls’ soccer — The Coast Guard Academy will be home to Baylee Kennedy, and Tais Salles is going to Regis College; Basketball — Diamond Williams has signed with Johnson and Wales, and Josh Charles has committed to Thiel College; Football — Caine Foster and Jaylen Robinson will go on to play at Ave Maria, Trevor Osceola has signed with Kentucky Christian, Preston Seiler with Villanova, Trevor Martin with Greensboro and Rocky Miyares has committed to Concordia; Girls’ volleyball — Shay Faber will attend Marymount, and Graciella Molinari will go to Regis College; Boys’ lacrosse — Matt Sandelier will play at Dominican College; Track and field — Stephan Duvivier is off to Tufts; Wrestling — North Carolina State will be home to twins Jamal and Jamel Morris, and Anthony Vazquez has signed with Pittsburgh.