So far the biggest competition for the St. Thomas Aquinas softball team this postseason has been the weather.
Notch another win in that department for the Raiders.
As the rain fell Tuesday afternoon, Aquinas rolled to yet another blowout victory as it beat host American 16-0 in a Region 4-7A semifinal that went just four innings.
The Raiders (21-6) will host the regional final Friday against the winner of Wednesday’s Monarch-West Boca game.
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Since its district semifinal, Aquinas — the two-time defending Class 7A state champion — has outscored its four opponents 62-0 (Nova, South Broward, Reagan and American) and hasn’t played a seven-inning game since the BCAA tournament.
“We were really worried about getting this game in because of the weather,” said coach Bryan Baucom, who lost nine seniors (seven starters) from last year’s championship team.
“Once we got going, I was a little concerned with how we would play in the rain, in the mud. We haven’t had to do that much this year. I thought our kids responded really well from the second inning on. I was impressed with how our kids approached the hitting.”
Game officials pushed up the start Tuesday by 30 minutes in an effort to beat those ominous storm clouds — a move that worked as the game wasn’t interrupted despite light but steady rain.
Aquinas, which beat American 12-1 in the regional semifinals last year, threatened in the first but didn’t score.
In the second, however, the Raiders opened things up with five runs off three hits as the nervous Patriots (17-8) made four errors.
After Aquinas scored its first two runs, starting pitcher Alexis Castroman was pulled only to return in the third.
Up 5-0, junior pitcher Brooke Stock got in a bit of a jam putting the first two batters on. Stock settled in, however, and only gave up one hit the rest of the way.
“When I walked a batter, then gave up a blooper, I’ll admit, I was a little nervous,” said Stock, who hasn’t given up a run in three consecutive games.
“But we did good. We hit the ball well, played great defense. I’m excited about this team. We have three games left, and it’s great.’’
The Raiders opened the floodgates in the fourth with a 10-run inning helped along by plenty of American miscues.
Aquinas scored four of its final six runs off errors or wild pitches and got enough runs for the 15-run mercy rule after Stock retired the Patriots in the bottom of the frame.
The Raiders now wait for the winner of the other 4-7A semifinal and will get a team they haven’t played in some time. Aquinas hasn’t played Monarch nor West Boca since 2013.
“We’re playing pretty well right now, but regionals is a tough road,” Baucom said. “We just have to be ready to play and we’re glad to be home, play in a familiar place.
“This team, it has taken them some time to find their identity. They’ve realized those kids from last year aren’t coming back into the lineup. They’ve realized this is their turn. They are embracing it.”
Aquinas 16, American 0
STA: 0 5 1 10 — 16 13 0
Amer: 0 0 0 0 — 0 2 6
WP: Brooke Stock (9-1). LP: Alexis Castroman. STA 21-6, AME 17-8.
▪ Region 4-6A semifinal — Stuart South Fork 2, Pines Charter 1 (8): On the wrong end of two close calls late, Pembroke Pines Charter, champions in Class 6A two of the past three seasons, fell in extra innings to Stuart South Fork at Silver Lakes Park.
South Fork scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth on a squeeze play that scored Taylor Schmidt, sliding under catcher Camila Lopez’s tag, although it was uncertain whether her foot ever reached home as Lopez dropped to block the plate.
In the bottom of the inning for Pines Charter (19-8), Julia Ramos attempted to bunt for a hit that would have put the winning run on and tying run in scoring position but was called out at first while the second baseman covering appeared to be airborne as Ramos arrived at the bag. Sophia Devesa later struck out swinging to end it.
“[We] shouldn’t have been in that position,” Pines Charter coach Tom Fadul said. “They got the timely hits. We didn’t get the timely hits.”
South Fork’s Morgan Blourne and Pines Charter’s Claire Blount dueled through complete-game efforts on both sides. Blourne struck out 12 and gave up one run on nine hits, and Blount had 10 strikeouts, surrendering two runs on six hits.
SF 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 — 2 6 0
PC 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 — 1 9 2
WP: Morgan Blourne. LP: Claire Blount (14-3).
At least seven regional semifinal softball games were rescheduled for Wednesday because of inclement weather.
In Region 3-8A, Douglas will play at Western at 7 p.m.
In Region 4-8A, Flanagan will play at McArthur at 5 p.m.
In Region 4-7A, Monarch will host West Boca Raton at 1 p.m.
In Region 4-5A, Plantation American Heritage will host Riviera Beach Suncoast at 7 p.m.
In Region 4-4A, Gulliver Prep will host Florida Christian at 1 p.m. and Coral Springs Charter will face Calvary Christian at 4 p.m. at Betti Stradling Park.
In Region 4-3A, Westminster Christian will play Marathon at 7 p.m. at Palmetto Bay Park.
Region 4-8A quarterfinal: Palmetto at Columbus, 6
Region 4-8A quarterfinal: Coral Gables at South Dade, 7
Region 4-8A quarterfinal at Flamingo Park: West Broward vs. Miami High, 7
Region 4-8A quarterfinal: Hialeah at Flanagan, 6:30
Region 3-8A quarterfinal: Cypress Bay at Douglas, 4
Region 3-8A quarterfinal: Taravella at Cooper City, 7
Region 4-6A quarterfinal at Florida Memorial: Mater Academy vs. Goleman, 3:30
Region 4-6A quarterfinal: Miami Springs at Doral, 4
Region 4-6A quarterfinal at Pines Flamingo Park: Port St. Lucie at Pines Charter, 7
Region 4-4A quarterfinal at Barry University: Key West at St. Brendan, 7
Region 4-4A quarterfinal: Mater Lakes at Gulliver, 4
Region 4-4A quarterfinal: Somerset at American Heritage-Delray, 7
Region 4-4A quarterfinal: West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman at Calvary Christian, 4
Region 4-2A quarterfinal at Tamiami Park: Colonial Christian at Brito, 4
Region 4-2A quarterfinal at Homestead Sports Complex: Miami Christian vs. Redland Christian, 7
Region 4-2A quarterfinal: Zion Lutheran-Boca Raton Christian loser at Sheridan Hills Christian, 4
District 10 final at Archbishop McCarthy: 6
District 13 semifinals at Westland Hialeah: Miami High vs. SLAM Academy, 3:30; Westland Hialeah vs. Miami Springs, 5; Final: 7
District 15 semifinals at Southwest: Ferguson vs. Varela, 5; St. Brendan vs. Southwest, 7
District 26 final at Douglas: 6