Will the 15th time be the charm?
Palmetto’s softball team hopes so.
The Panthers earned their chance to end their long drought against rival Coral Reef on Friday with a 9-5 victory over host Coral Gables in a Region 4-8A quarterfinal.
Palmetto (19-7) will try to snap a 14-game losing streak against Coral Reef that has stretched over the past three seasons when it visits the Cudas at 4 p.m. Tuesday in a regional semifinal.
The teams will face each other for the fifth time this season and will have played five times in a season for the third consecutive year.
Coral Reef, which advanced Thursday with an 11-0 victory over Braddock, has advanced to state in each of the past two seasons, winning a state championship in 2013.
The top three batters in Palmetto’s lineup combined for seven of the Panthers’ hits against Coral Gables and helped the Panthers take a 7-0 lead in the first inning.
Kylie Kross went 3 for 5 with a double, a triple and three RBI, and Hannah Burge went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Christina Vincent also had a triple in the first inning and went 2 for 4 for the game.
Coral Gables battled back, making the game much closer than the Cavaliers’ previous lopsided 20-2 loss to Palmetto in the GMAC tournament two weeks ago. The Cavaliers scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth and one in the sixth to give themselves a chance.
But Palmetto pitcher Amanda Guglietta shut the door in relief on one pitch in the sixth when she caught a line drive back to her to end the inning when Gables had two runners on with two outs. Guglietta scored two runs and worked her way out of trouble in the seventh despite two walks.
Palmetto’s softball team hasn’t had a problem scoring runs this season, but holding leads against rivals, including Coral Reef, has sometimes been an issue. The Panthers did on Friday, and coach Emilo Exposito hopes if Palmetto can get a lead on Coral Reef on Tuesday his team will be able to do it again.
“We felt good after we got that early lead, but I knew it was going to be tough because Coral Gables is a hungry team,” Exposito said. “If we can do something like that Tuesday, we need to keep our foot on the pedal and not let up even if we get four or five runs early.”
▪ Palmetto 9, Coral Gables 5
Pal: 700-002-0 — 9-12-1
CG: 000-401-0 — 5-9-3
WP: Daijaa Williams (7-4).
MORE REGIONAL SOFTBALL
▪ 4-6A — TERRA 1, Miami Springs 0: After a scoreless six innings, TERRA (20-5) scored the game-winning run when Victoria Conway came home on a fielding error. Miami Springs (18-4) debated the ruling that Allison Newsome was safe at first, claiming she rounded the base for second and was tagged out. The umpires met, but the call stood and the run counted.
The run gave Tayler Sanchez (13-0) a victory in a pitching duel with Emily Santos.
Sanchez, who struck out 10, faced a second-inning jam as the Hawks loaded the bases with no outs. Sanchez responded by setting down the next three batters, two on strikeouts.
“I was not stressed because I knew my team had my back,” Sanchez said. “I knew they would get the outs.”
The Wolves face Doral Academy in the Region 4-6A semifinals on Tuesday.
TER: 000-000-1 — 1-4-0
MS: 000-000-0 — 0-5-1
WP: Tayler Sanchez (13-0). LP: Emily Santos (18-3).