Cruising along with a 5-0 lead for most of the game, it appeared the Palmetto softball team was on its way to another workmanlike, ho-hum, win over district rival Coral Reef, a team it has not lost to in three years.
As it turned out, there would be nothing ho-hum about it as the Barracudas battled all the way back to tie the score at five.
But, thanks to a two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh, the Panthers pulled out a thriller as Hannah Burge came through with a walkoff RBI single to left center that scored Latricia Richardson from second giving Palmetto a 6-5 win in the GMAC Championship game at Palmetto Bay Park marking the team’s third consecutive GMAC title.
“I was just looking for something I could get the bat on and try and drive it somewhere and it all worked out,” Burge said. “Even when we were up five, we knew it wasn’t over because we know from playing Coral Reef so much that they’re always fighting and grinding and give credit to them for the way they fought back tonight.”
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Burge led the game off with a base hit in the first and scored when the very next batter, sister Hannah Burge brought her home with a double to left.
A Kiley Kross bunt single and ensuing fielders choice by Lauren Margolis brought another run home and the Panthers (21-3), who have a loaded team with their sights set on a state title run, led 3-0 after one.
Palmetto added single runs in the third and fourth and starting pitcher Brittney Barczak was cruising along and took a 5-1 lead into the sixth.
That’s when the Barracudas (15-10) stunned everyone in the park as they batted around, wracking Barczak for five hits in the inning, the big one a bases loaded 2-RBI single by Janelle Boyd and just like that, it was 5-5.
“It was a matter of just keeping our poise and not panicking out there after we lost the lead,” said Margolis whose first-inning RBI gave her 63 on the season which is fifth in the nation (Max Preps) and is 19 away from a state record of 82 set by South Dade’s Thea Ramirez two years ago.
“Now we know we have to really get down to work because next week are districts and everything really becomes big from this point on.”