High School Sports

‘Everything clicked,’ and now the Cooper City softball team is heading back to state

For the Miami Herald

The Cooper City softball team is state bound again.

This time, however, the Cowboys didn’t need extra innings to dispose of St. Thomas Aquinas in their Class 8A regional final on Friday.

Cooper City produced plenty of early runs to defeat the Raiders 11-3 and advance to the state tournament at Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach against the Lakewood Ranch in a state semifinal game on Thursday at 5:20 p.m.

“Getting the 11 runs was unexpected,” said Cooper City coach Phil Schmalz. “The kids just came out on fire. This was the team I knew we had, but we just couldn’t put it all together until now. Everything clicked today.”

Lakewood Ranch (29-0), ranked No. 3 in the country by MaxPreps, defeated Sickles 12-0 on Friday to advance.

The Cowboys (21-6-1) return to the state tournament for the second straight year, losing to Hagerty 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning at last year’s Class 8A state semifinal.

The big inning for Cooper City came in the bottom of the third following back-to-back two-run singles by a pair of freshmen Bianca Polistina and Kirsten Caravaca for a 11-1 lead.

“Getting those early runs was really surprising,” said Polistina. “Being a family helps us get the runs we needed.”

Polistina was 2-for-3 with a double and four RBI to lead the Cowboys.

Aquinas (21-8) added a pair of runs in the top of the fourth. The first came on lead- off home run by Chelsea Brown. Madison Branberry scored on a fielder’s choice cutting the deficit to 11-3.

The Raiders’ loss was the worst in regional play since an 8-0 setback to Cooper City in a 2012 regional semifinal.

Senior Jasmin Herrera pitched a complete game, improving her record to 13-4.

The Cowboys improved to 5-9 against Aquinas, dating back to 2008 and have now won back-to-back games against them. They defeated the Raiders 2-1 (nine innings), snapping a six-game losing streak to Aquinas, last year’s regional final.

Cooper City jumped on Aquinas in the first inning to take a 3-0 lead. A two-out single by designated hitter Adriana Crespo scored Michelle Adelman and Amanda Gettys keyed the early runs.

The Cowboys added three more runs in the second inning, two coming on an two-run double by Polistina.