American Heritage wasn’t intimidated by Ponte Vedra Beach’s high national ranking or unbeaten record.
On the contrary.
It was the Sharks who looked like they had the jitters.
And so, thanks to a heaping handful of throwing errors, American Heritage advanced to yet another Class 5A state softball title game by defeating the Sharks 4-0 at Dodgertown on Friday night.
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The Patriots (24-6) will try for their sixth state championship and second in the past three seasons against Belleview at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.
Ponte Vedra Beach, ranked third nationally by MaxPrep.com, ended its season 28-1.
“We knew their pitcher could do a lot of different things with the ball,” Heritage coach Marty Cooper said. “Our game plan was to put balls in play and put pressure on them all night long by running the bases and did a few different things. We’re really aggressive on the bases, and it worked out.”
Heritage got another terrific outing from junior pitcher Jenna Goodrich (12-2), who tossed a one-hitter and was in control all night.
“I felt really good and knew I had a team behind me that was ready for anything coming our way,” said Goodrich, who struck out eight. “We knew they had a great staff and great hitters, so we wanted to keep them off balance and keep the pressure on them.”
With the Patriots swinging the bat well, Ponte Vedra Beach’s charity was welcomed if not entirely needed.
The Patriots scored all four of their runs off throwing errors and took the lead in the top of the third. Gianna Arrizurieta led off the inning with a single and moved to second before attempting to steal third. The throw to third ended up in foul territory in left field as Arrizurieta raced home.
Two innings later, Ashley Belans led off the inning with a walk and ended up scoring on a host of errors by the Sharks. First, Arrizurieta reached on a throwing error that sailed over the first baseman’s head. As Arrizurieta worked out of a rundown, Belans came home on a second errant throw.
“We run a play called ‘first-third,’ and I ran that,” Arrizurieta said. “We’ve been playing for a while and run it all the time. I knew we would execute it.”
Said Belans: “When the defensive player commits to the runner at first, that’s when you go because they have no chance of getting me.”
In the sixth, the Patriots put things away by scoring twice, again off throwing errors by the Sharks.
Jessie Brown got the sixth started with a leadoff double, then came home when Sydney Behr reached on an error.
Behr eventually came home when she slid under a throw that ended up squirting away from the third baseman.
Goodrich rarely had runners on base and gave up her only hit of the night in the fourth.
Heritage has only given up one run in its six postseason games and has outscored its opponents 65-1.
AH 0 0 1 0 1 2 0 — 4 5 0
PVB 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 1 4
WP: Jenna Goodrich (12-2); LP: Avery Geehr (25-1). AH 24-6; PVB 28-1.