All season long, it has been one hurdle after another for the Doral Academy softball team. So one more on Tuesday night was no big deal.
The Firebirds, thanks to a huge dropped fly ball in left field in the top of the seventh that allowed the go ahead run to score, were down to their last three outs trailing Pembroke Pines Charter 3-2.
But thanks to a one-out RBI double to left center by Gabby Ruiz that tied the score before Ruiz eventually came around to score on a throwing error by the Charter catcher into left field, Doral had a dramatic 4-3 win over the Jaguars in a Region 4-7A semifinal at Doral. And with it comes the program’s second berth in a regional final.
“This has been an extremely trying year,” Doral coach Walter Acevedo said. “Along the way we lost five different starters to injuries, and I’ve literally been piecemealing this thing together week to week. I can’t be more proud of what they did out there tonight beating a quality program like Pines Charter.”
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Doral (15-12) will host Stuart South Fork on Friday at 7 p.m. with a berth at the state final four in Vero Beach on the line. The Firebirds lost a heartbreaker to that same team in extra innings two years ago in their other regioanl final appearance.
“This year has been really hard for all of us because of all the players we’ve lost,” Ruiz said. “But we’ve really all stuck together through all of it and what we did in that last inning is typical of our determination all year.”
After the leadoff hitter grounded to short, Brianna Muniz got the last inning rally started with an infield base hit. Ruiz then stepped up and laced a shot to the left center field fence scoring Muniz all the way from first.
When Ruiz took off for third on a wild pitch, the Pines Charter catcher tried to throw down attempting to catch her rounding third but the throw went high into left field and Ruiz trotted home while being mobbed by her teammates.
Trailing 1-0 in the top of the sixth, Pines Charter rallied for a pair of runs thanks to a one-out throwing error at shortstop allowing Grasy Gomez to reach second. Gomez then scored when Maegan Calandra lined a single down the left field line and went to second on the the throw home. She then came home when pitcher Eliza Gozalez helped herself out with and RBI single to left.
After Doral tied the score with a run in the last of the sixth, the Jaguars (18-11) retook the lead when, with runners on second and third and one out, Julia Ramos lofted a shallow fly ball to left that the Doral left fielder could not handle.
▪ Region 3-9A semifinal: Stoneman Douglas 3, Monarch 2: How hard is it to beat a team four times in the same season?
“Pretty damn hard,” Douglas junior Gianna Lovito answered. “But we did it.”
Two weeks after leaving rival Monarch on the field in tears with a walk-off win in the bottom of the seventh of the District 11-9A title game, the Eagles delivered more heartache to the Knights by eliminating them in the state playoffs.
Monarch (18-9) trailed 3-1 entering the seventh, but pulled to within a run on Aubrey McNulty’s sacrifice fly to right field with the bases loaded. With two outs, the Knights had the tying run on third base and the go-ahead run on second.
But Lovito, who had retired 11 in a row entering the final frame before she walked two and gave up a single with one out, got Monarch shortstop Andrea Ordonez to fly out to left field to end the game, propelling Douglas (23-5) into Friday’s regional final against either Jupiter or Park Vista.
“She pitched a great game,” Eagles coach Brian Staubly said of Lovito. “She gave up one run in the first inning that wasn’t her fault. We didn’t make the play in left field. But she’s been like that all year. She’s been lights out for most of the year.”
The Eagles broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning with a two-out rally. Sophomore Monique Poitevin drove in the first run with hard hit ball off the glove off Ordonez. Then, junior Allison Kerce drove in Sammy Gedrin with what turned out to be the winning run with a bloop single to right field.
The victory was the 200th of Staubly’s career. In 2015, he led the Eagles to their first trip to the state final four. Now, his team stands one win away from returning there.
“We’re going to go play somebody really good,” Staubly said. “We know it’s going to be tough.”
▪ Region 4-9A semifinal: Coral Gables 4, American 1: After spending most of the year flying under the radar, there will be no more of that for the Coral Gables softball team.
That’s when the Cavaliers, having already beaten American in a GMAC semifinal two weeks ago, turned the trick again and this time when it really counted.
Thanks to a terrific pitching outing from a pair of ninth-graders, Gables (19-7) scored four runs in the first three innings and made it stand up the rest of the way, winning and advancing to the regional final for the second time in program history.
Gables will travel to Palmetto Bay Park on Friday to take on Palmetto in a regional final at 7 p.m., marking a rematch of the GMAC championship game two weeks ago.
Starter Sydney Pell gave up just three hits in four innings before giving way to reliever Angie Bonilla who yielded just one to combine for the four-hitter, walking just one Patriots batter all day.
“Maybe because we don’t play in a very strong district we weren’t challenged that much all year and nobody really looked at us that much,” Gables coach Natalie De La Vega said. “But the Slamfest tournament we played well and then we made it to the finals of GMAC, so we’re playing well and looking forward to the next challenge.”
Rebecca Rodriguez and Natalie Regaldo (who entered the game with a .714 avg.) each had RBI singles to give Gables its early lead. A solo home run by Alexis Guzman in the fourth accounted for the only American run.
▪ Region 4-5A semifinal: Coral Springs Charter 7, LaBelle 0: The game plan for the Panthers over the past few seasons hasn’t been complicated.
Grab an early lead and let pitcher Ally Muraskin do the rest.
On Tuesday, Muraskin was virtually untouchable as the UCF-bound senior struck out 14 as Charter (27-1) moved onto Friday’s regional final at 4 p.m. against host Gulliver.
The Panthers are vying to become Broward’s first softball team to win three consecutive state titles.
“We didn’t know a whole lot about this team; so we just wanted to play the way we usually do,” said Muraskin, who ended the game with a runner at third by firing a strike to first on a ground out. “We wanted to jump on them, stay on the board and slam the door on them.”
Muraskin, who struck out at least two batters in each of the first six innings and sat down the side in the sixth, got the only run she needed in the first on a Gianna Boccagno single. The Panthers made it 3-0 in the third on a two-run shot over the left field fence from Shannon Doherty.
LaBelle ends its season 13-15.
▪ Region 4-5A semifinal: Gulliver Prep 9, Key West 0: Mayte Lezcano was 3 for 4 with two doubles and four RBI, and Mekayla Frazier went 2 for 4 with two runs and two RBI. Winning pitcher Lilly Barlow tossed the shutout, allowing four hits and striking out six. Key West finishes the season at 18-5. The Raiders (18-6) will host two-time defending state champ Coral Springs Charter at 4 p.m. on Friday in a region final.
▪ Region 4-6A semifinal: American Heritage 12, Miami Springs 0: Seven runs in the first inning lifted defending 6A state champion American Heritage to victory over host Miami Springs (22-3).
Lead-off hitter Hannah Sipos set the pace with an inside the park home run. Sipos also scored the seventh run with an RBI single.
“We started to coast and got too comfortable after the first,” said catcher Ahnie Jumper. The Patriots (23-3) only scored two runs between the second and fifth innings. “We need to focus better to win state.”
The winning pitcher was Julia Grobman (5-0), and Mallory Mitnick (22-3) took the loss.
Heritage will host Melbourne-Eau Gallie or Rockledge in a region final on Friday. The Patriots have made it to state the past five years and won seven times in the last 13 years.
▪ Region 4-8A semifinal: St. Thomas Aquinas 11, Boca Raton-Spanish River 1 (5 Inn.): The visiting Sharks jumped to a 1-0 lead but with their starting pitcher out with an injury sustained over the weekend, that first inning was one of few highlights.
The host Raiders (21-9) got the bats going in a five-run second and rolled into a regional showdown against longtime softball rival Cooper City. Aquinas will visit Cooper City on Friday night with the winner advancing to next week’s state final four in Vero Beach.
“Cooper City has a great program, and there’s a long tradition of us meeting in regional finals over the years,” Aquinas coach Bryan Baucom said. “It is going to be a battle and will come down to good pitching, defense and timely hitting. It’s an old-school rivalry; for 23 years I have been coaching, we have battled in softball.”
Spanish River concludes its season 16-7.