The Westminster Christian softball team means to break through the roadblocks that have kept it from reaching the state tournament the past five seasons.
Westminster Christian picked up another valuable victory in preparation for that potential playoff run Tuesday night when it knocked off four-time defending state champion Gulliver 4-1 at Palmetto Bay Park.
The Warriors (16-3) won their 11th consecutive game led by another solid pitching performance by Kelli Kleiss, who struck out eight in the complete game win.
"Gulliver has been the top team around for so long so it’s a great thing to be able to compete with them and knock them off," Westminster Christian coach Scott Doan said. "They’re still the state champs until someone knocks them off in the playoffs and they have a great team."
Kleiss (12-2) worked out of a couple of jams with runners on base throughout the first few innings until the Warriors took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth with three runs in the inning that were driven by a walk and three hit batsmen.
Kia Benitez led Westminster at the plate going 2 for 2 with a triple that was nearly a home run bouncing off the top of the outfield fence and landing in play. Benitez scored twice and Kristin Guthery had an RBI single and a run scored.
Westminster Christian will play a doubleheader with Okeechobee Thursday at Palmetto Bay Park and then compete April 10-12 at a tournament in Naples before the district playoffs the following week.
Doan credits his team’s experience for the prolific start and is hoping that will sustain the momentum heading into the postseason.
The Warriors have not reached the state final four since winning their lone state championship in 2009.
"We’ve decided we were approaching the year like we were on a mission and these are all opportunities to grow," Doan said. "We worked out of a tough spots in this game and that helps you grow as a team and gain experience for the moments you face in the playoffs."
GUL 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 5 2
WC 0 1 0 3 0 0 X 4 6 1
WP - Kelli Kleis (12-2) LP - G. Draney.