There was no questioning the courageous effort Cypress Bay senior Sarah Maloney put forth this season.
Dealing with an MCL injury since this past July, Maloney pitched through the pain throughout a campaign that culminated with a return trip to the state final four.
But Wednesday night’s developments at Historic Dodgertown were not the final chapter she or the Lightning hoped to write for her career.
A nightmarish third inning in which Maloney gave up a three-run home run led to an offensive onslaught that Cypress Bay could not overcome, eventually falling 9-1 to Valrico Bloomingdale in a Class 8A state semifinal.
“It’s obviously not the ideal way I wanted to end my career,” said Maloney, who will not play college softball. “But other than three bad innings, we played well and we kept playing hard until the end of the game.”
Jenna Beswick’s three-run blast put Bloomingdale ahead 5-1 after three innings.
Maloney stayed out of trouble for the next two frames, but Cypress Bay’s bats were unable to do much damage to Bloomingdale starter Lace Smith.
The Bulls (28-3) broke the game open with four more runs in the bottom half of the sixth as they totaled 11 hits. Beswick and Darby Bernaldo each had three RBI.
“We jumped out early and got on top, but [Bloomingdale] brought a lot of energy to the game and they played great,” Cypress Bay coach Lonny Shapiro said. “You don’t get here without quality talent and that’s true for both of these teams. It wasn’t our day.”
Cypress Bay (21-8), which was making its second consecutive appearance in the state final four, struck first with a run in the first inning driven in by Lily Pruneda.
But the Lightning couldn’t muster much more after that inning, striking out six times against Smith.
“Throughout the entire year, we saw a lot of pitchers who like to stay outside [off the plate],” Maloney said. “[Smith] kept coming inside and I think that threw us off.”
While frustrated with the performance, Maloney and her teammates took solace in what they accomplished as a team over the past couple of seasons at Cypress Bay.
“I can’t remember too many public schools in Broward that have made it to state back-to-back seasons,” Shapiro said. “It’s a testament to the seniors on what they’ve accomplished.”
CB 100 000 0 – 1 3 2
BL 104 004 x – 9 11 1