Pines Charter and St. Thomas Aquinas squared off in the finals of the BCAA Big 8 softball finals with, honestly, more on their minds.
While both teams don’t boast the impressive records they have in the past, with postseason play kicking off next week, both teams appear to be playing their best ball of the season.
It’s coming at the right time.
“It was a pretty intense game for me,” said Pines Charter sophomore pitcher Aliza Gonzalez, who held Aquinas to two hits in a 2-0 victory at Silver Lakes South Park in western Pembroke Pines.
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“Our defense really stepped up and helped me in this game. It has been a long journey, it really has. ... Our team struggled in the beginning and we’re slowly getting back.”
Gonzalez, who shut out Cooper City and Western in the previous Big 8 games, didn’t strike out a single Aquinas batter, yet kept the Raiders (16-9) off the bases and got some opportunistic run support to get the win.
The Jaguars (15-10) open district play on Monday; Aquinas plays Tuesday.
“We were very happy to be here and I’m proud of these girls, proud of this team,” said Pines Charter coach Tom Fadul, who has coached the Jags to a pair of state titles.
“Both teams are very good and we play the regular season as practice for the playoffs. I know [Aquinas] looks at it that way, as well. We’re both trying to get ready for the playoffs. The real season starts next week.”
Pines Charter got the only run it would need in the third when Isabella Devesa walked then came home on a double from Chloe Freire.
The Jags tagged on an insurance run in the seventh when Angelina Pascual doubled with one out then came home from third on a two-out single from Alexandra Good.
Aquinas starter Kaitlin King gave up just three hits while striking out four.
“Pines Charter made every defensive play, made plays a lot of teams would boot around the infield,” said Aquinas coach Bryan Baucom, whose team has four state titles on its postseason résumé.
“This was a great tuneup, playing three quality teams. It has been an up-and-down season but it’s time to refocus,” Baucom added. “We’re 0-0 and need to focus on the next game at hand and only that game.”
▪ Coral Gables 10, Lourdes 0: WP: Angie Bonilla(7-4) 5 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 7 K’s. LP Natasha Gonzalez. CG (15-7): Rebecca Rodriguez 2-3, 2B, 4 RBI, R. Melanie Rodriguez 1-2, 2B, BB, 2 RBI, 2 R.