Coral Reef’s explosive lineup was a major reason it maintained its place as Miami-Dade County’s top public school softball team.
Against Lithia Newsome on Saturday, the Barracudas couldn’t muster enough offense to bring the story of their three-year run to a successful conclusion.
Newsome pitchers Cassidy Davis and Claire Feldman held Coral Reef in check for most of Saturday’s Class 8A state championship game leading the Wolves to a 5-1 win over the Barracudas at Historic Dodgertown.
Coral Reef (23-5-1), which made it to at least the state semifinals three consecutive seasons, fell short of what would have been its second state title during that span.
"We just weren’t used to this level pitching," Coral Reef shortstop Kylan Becker said. "We’ve faced some good ones, but not like this."
Becker had five hits in Friday’s state semifinal win over Parkland Douglas. That was part of a 17-hit performance for the Barracudas.
Coral Reef had only four hits against Newsome.
Davis went 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run and all four hits, while striking out four. It finally appeared Coral Reef had a chance to do some damage to Davis in the bottom of the sixth after loading the bases with two outs.
Feldman made sure it wouldn’t happen as she got catcher Carolina Colli to pop up in foul territory to end the inning.
"This was a great run and I’m proud of my team," Coral Reef third baseman Carsyn Gordon said. "This team will always fight back and we showed that today."
Davis wasn’t pitching by the seventh inning.
Instead, she helped Newsome (23-5), which won its first state championship, put the game out of reach at the plate in the top of the seventh when she belted a two-run home run over the left field fence.
Newsome loaded the bases in the third inning and scored two runs to take a 2-0 lead. Gordon helped Coral Reef answer in the bottom half of the inning with an RBI triple that just missed being a game-tying home run by a couple of feet.
"I wanted this for them possibly even more than they did because I know how big this would have been for them," Coral Reef coach Dario Rodriguez said. "Newsome has a great pitching staff, and consistently we just didn’t face that kind of pitching."
Rodriguez said he’d miss his core of seniors dearly.
So likely will the Barracudas’ fans.
Coral Reef graduates its entire starting infield with Gordon, Becker, second baseman Denver Keller and first baseman Cassandra Garcia as well as starting pitcher Michelle Mesa and center fielder Cristina Colli.
Coral Reef totaled a combined record of 72-16-1 over the past three seasons, winning its district and the GMAC championship each year.
"I think it’s a great accomplishment what we did," Rodriguez said. "I have good kids coming back, but this group was special. It was a pleasure and honor to coach this group. It’s just sad because I know they wanted to go out as state champions. They are irreplaceable."
NSM 002 100 2 – 5 10 1
CR 001 000 0 – 1 4 0
WP: Cassidy Davis (10-2). LP: Michelle Mesa (21-4).
State softball championships
Class 8A: Lithia Newsome 5, Miami Coral Reef 1
Class 7A: Cantonment Tate 8, Sarasota 1
Class 6A: Ocala Forest 8, Tampa Chamberlain 7
Class 5A: Glen St. Mary Baker County 1, Plantation American Heritage 0
Class 4A: Coral Springs Charter 3, Callahan West Nassau 1
Class 3A: Lakeland Christian 6, Miami Westminster Christian 5
Class 2A: Aucilla Christian 11, Boca Raton Grandview Prep 0 (5)
Class 1A: Chiefland 3, Jay 2 (8)