High School Sports

Westminster Christian falls behind, can’t recover in softball state semifinal

Westminster Christian shortstop Ally Mena, left, tries to make a play at second base as Montverde Academy’s Natalia Rodriguez slides in while Westminster second baseman Adriana Otero looks on during the Class 4A state semifinal at Dodgertown on Thursday.
Westminster Christian shortstop Ally Mena, left, tries to make a play at second base as Montverde Academy’s Natalia Rodriguez slides in while Westminster second baseman Adriana Otero looks on during the Class 4A state semifinal at Dodgertown on Thursday. Daily Commercial (Leesburg)

The bats on either side didn’t do much damage, but Montverde took better advantage of its chances in knocking Westminster Christian out at the state softball tournament Thursday afternoon.

Montverde, an Orlando-area school making its second appearance in the state finals, scored three runs using just one hit to beat the Warriors 3-1 in a Class 4A semifinal at Dodgertown.

Because of Wednesday’s weather washout, the Eagles quickly gathered themselves, then walked to a neighboring field to face Fort Myers’ Bishop Verot for the state title.

Westminster Christian trudged toward its bus for a long ride south.

“It wasn’t our day and they deserve the credit for that,” said coach Scott Doan, whose team won the 2014 title here but lost in last year’s final to Lakeland Christian after having the bases loaded in the seventh.

“They did a good job pitching, kept us off balance. It was one of those days. We hit the ball all year. We weren’t patient like we had been.”

The Eagles got their first two runs in the opening two innings with just one of their four hits in the game.

In the bottom of the first, Westminster pitcher Victoria Perez (13-6) walked leadoff batter Natalia Rodriguez and watched her come around off a stolen base, sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly to left.

In the second, Hannah Futo also led off with a walk yet came around on a sharp single through the infield from Hannah Crumblish with one out.

Crumblish advanced to third on a wild throw from the Warriors’ catcher, but Perez got out of the inning.

The Warriors, who end their season 21-6, battled back in the third and looked to take control.

Westminster Christian opened with three consecutive hits — two through the infield and Ally Mena’s shot into center — to lead things off.

The Warriors got what wound up being their lone run of the day when pinch-runner Kelly Rico came across on a fielder’s choice from Brooklyn Maguire.

Westminster Christian ended up stranding the bases loaded in that inning and put only two runners into scoring position again.

“We came out and obviously wanted to win, we should have had more hits, but sometimes things don’t work out the way you plan,” said Dayma Pia, who led off the inning by reaching on a shot Montverde’s third baseman couldn’t handle.

Montverde switched things up in the fourth and replaced starter Bailey Battles with Heather Franson, and it looked like the Warriors would keep up where they left off as Ashley Castano opened with a walk and took second.

Franson settled in, however, and gave up just one hit in four innings.

The Eagles took a commanding two-run lead back in the fifth when Victoria Atkinson tripled to right with two outs then raced home on a wild pitch.

“On the field, we did fine, but we didn’t hit at all,” said Mena, who had one of Westminster’s four hits. “The first few innings, we were a little off balance with [Battles] throwing a lot of off-speed stuff. We just didn’t adjust to it. We definitely should have scored more in the third; we just didn’t execute.”

After the game, Doan gathered his tearful team and told the players he was extremely proud of them for the season they had.

The Warriors came close to a repeat championship last year, yet didn’t get that opportunity again Thursday.

According to Mena, it was a great run that just fell short.

“There’s nothing I can say about us — we battled and didn’t quit,” Doan said. “We put the bat on the ball but it didn’t find its way. That’s the way it happens sometimes.”

If you go

What: Florida state softball finals.

When: Through Saturday.

Where: Historic Dodgertown, 3901 26th St., Vero Beach.

Admission: $9 per session; Parking: $10 for cars; $25 for buses.

2015 state champions: Class 8A: Lithia Newsome; 7A: Cantonment Tate; 6A: Ocala Forest; 5A: Baker County; 4A: Coral Springs Charter; 3A: Lakeland Christian; 2A: Monticello Aucilla Christian; 1A: Chiefland.

Friday’s schedule: Class 5A semifinals: Bradenton Bayshore vs. Glen St. Mary Baker County, 8:35 a.m.; Coral Springs Charter vs. South Sumter, 9:50 a.m.; Class 6A semifinals: Panama City Beach Arnold vs. Auburndale, 11:05 a.m.; American Heritage vs. Land O’Lakes, 12:20; Class 7A semifinals: Gainesville vs. Bradenton Braden River, 1:35; Stuart South Fork vs. Eagle Lake Lake Region, 2:50; Class 8A semifinals: Dover Strawberry Crest vs. Bartow, 4:05; St. Thomas Aquinas vs. Clearwater Countryside, 5:20; 9A semifinals: Western vs. Winter Garden West Orange, 6:35; Palmetto vs. Tampa Alonso, 7:50.

Saturday’s schedule: Class 5A final: 10:05 a.m.; Class 6A final: 12:35; Class 7A final: 3:05; Class 8A final: 5:35; Class 9A final: 8:05.

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