The last time Coral Reef’s softball team played a Broward County team at the state tournament, it celebrated a state championship.
On Friday afternoon, the Barracudas earned the right to play for another one at the expense of one of Broward’s best.
Sparked by an offensive barrage that totaled 17 hits, Coral Reef defeated Douglas 9-5 in a Class 8A state semifinal at Historic Dodgertown and earned the chance to win two state titles in three seasons.
The Barracudas (23-4-1), who are at state for the third consecutive season, will play Lithia Newsome in the state final at 4:35 p.m. Saturday.
“We had to our minds clear of everything, because last year we came up here and it didn’t end the way we wanted,” Coral Reef senior third baseman and FSU signee Carsyn Gordon said. “We have that fight and hunger in our eyes as seniors, and we want it bad.”
Gordon is one of six seniors, along with shortstop Kylan Becker, center fielder Cristina Colli, second baseman Denver Keller, first baseman Cassandra Garcia and pitcher Michelle Mesa who have helped make Coral Reef one of the state’s best teams over the past three seasons.
All six contributed to the win Friday.
Becker, an Ole Miss signee, went 5 for 5 with three RBI, and Gordon went 2 for 3 with three RBI. Colli went 2 for 4 with two RBI, and Keller drove in a run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly. Mesa ran into a little trouble late in the game as Douglas narrowed its deficit to 8-5 in the sixth inning, but she worked her way out of a few jams and gave up only three earned runs.
Coral Reef added an insurance run in the sixth on Becker’s final single and held off any potential rallies.
“We didn’t care this year about any other game just this one at state,” Becker said. “We definitely knew we needed to keep hitting, because I knew they had a good enough lineup to come back.”
The Barracudas swung the bats proficiently from the outset against Douglas (25-7), which was making its state debut. The Eagles jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI single by first baseman Katherine Peterson.
After quickly tying the game in the bottom half of the first, the Barracudas began their onslaught with five runs in the second to chase Douglas starter Samantha Feller.
Gordon and Becker added a run each in the next two innings off reliever Christina Granberry to give Coral Reef an 8-1 lead.
“It’s always tough when you fall behind, but as a senior I didn’t want to give up,” said Douglas shortstop Jessica England, one of six seniors for the Eagles. “I was proud that we at least fought back and came back.”
Douglas proved itself one of the best in Broward this season beating Class 7A state semifinalist St. Thomas Aquinas twice and earning a BCAA Big tournament runner-up finish.
The Eagles showed some resilience in the top of the fifth by scoring three runs on hits by Kayce Cahill, Jessica England and Madison Sack.
“It’s definitely good to leave a legacy behind,” England said. “Everyone on this team worked hard. No one expected us to make it here ,and it’s nice to show up and prove people wrong.”
DOU 100 031 0 – 5 7 1
CR 151 101 x – 9 17 3
WP: Michelle Mesa (21-3). LP: Samantha Feller (15-6).
If you go
What: The state softball championships.
When: Through Saturday.
Where: Historic Dodgertown, 3901 26 St., Vero Beach.
Admission: $9 per session; Parking: $8 for cars, $25 for buses.
Friday’s results: Class 4A semifinals: Callahan West Nassau 6, Alachua Santa Fe 0; Coral Springs Charter 5, Fort Pierce Lincoln Park 0; Class 2A semifinals: Monticello Aucilla Christian 1, St. Petersburg Canterbury 0; Boca Raton Grandview Prep 10, Belle Glade Glades Day 0; Class 8A semifinals: Lithia Newsome 1, Oviedo Hagerty 0 (8); Coral Reef 9, Douglas 5; Class 6A semifinals: Ocala Forest 2, Orange Park Oakleaf 1 (8); Stuart South Fork vs. Tampa Chamberlain, inc.
Saturday’s schedule: Class 4A final: West Nassau vs. Coral Springs Charter, 11:05 a.m.; Class 2A final: Aucilla Christian vs. Grandview Prep, 1:35; Class 8A final: Coral Reef vs. Newsome, 4:35; Class 6A final: Ocala Forest vs. South Fork-Chamberlain winner, 7:05