The Palmetto softball team was three outs from playing for the Class 9A state championship yet didn’t record a single one as the Panthers watched it all get away.
Tampa Alonso rallied from a two-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning by scoring four runs to beat the Panthers 8-6 in a semifinal game Friday night at Dodgertown in Vero Beach.
The Ravens (15-11) will face Winter Garden West Orange for the championship on Saturday night.
A potential Dade-Broward title game was thwarted earlier in the night when Western lost to West Orange 11-1 in six innings.
Palmetto (25-5) led its semifinal 6-4 heading into the bottom of the seventh before everything broke loose.
In the top of the seventh, Palmetto had runners at first and second with two outs but Carly Herskowitz was robbed on a diving catch by Kirsten Hawkins in center.
In the bottom of the inning, Alonso’s Caila Weisman led off with a triple to left.
Hawkins drove her in to make it a one-run game with a double to right on a 3-2 pitch from junior pitcher Daijaa Williams.
Alonso tied it on Amanda Wetzel’s RBI single and then ended it when Jessica Louth put a pitch over the right-field fence.
Down 2-0, Palmetto rallied in the third, scoring three runs -- while narrowly missing a fourth when Lauren Margolis was thrown out at the plate.
Down 2-0 with the bases loaded and one out, Palmetto’s Brittney Phillips singled in Kiley Kross and Alyssa Vincent to tie the score.
After Margolis was called out, Erin Love singled in Phillips to give the Panthers a 3-2 lead.
Palmetto loaded the bases again in the fourth and cashed in when Margolis singled in a pair of runs for a 5-2 lead.
Alonso battled back in the fourth by scoring twice but Palmetto’s Love raced home on a throwing error in the fifth to make it a two-run game once more. It wouldn’t last.
▪ Class 9A semifinal — Winter Park West Orange 11, Western 1 (6): Making their first trip to the state finals since 2002, the Wildcats fell behind early and never really challenged in a game ended in the sixth when West Orange scored four runs.
Down 2-0 in the third, the Wildcats (21-5) cut into their deficit when Kayla Leibman reached on an infield single and worked her way to third.
A single from Gabby Santaeugenia into left made it 2-1.
Western tried to keep things close with Florida State-bound ace Sydney Bates on the mound, yet the Warriors (29-1) kept scoring as they got at least one run in all six of their innings.
“They have a great team,’’ Western coach Jeffrey Poole said. “We made some errors, but they hit the ball and we didn’t. That’s just a great team. Next year, we’ll be better but they were the better team tonight.”
▪ Region 4-2A semifinal — Miami High 21, Ferguson 0: All season long, opposing defenses have been trying to stop Miami High’s Jeri Richard with virtually no success. On Friday afternoon, it was Ferguson’s turn as the frustrated Falcons defense found out the hard way just how elusive Richard can be.
With blinding speed and elusive moves, Richard bobbed and darted her way all over the field the entire game as frustrated Falcon defenders chased in futility as she led her Stingarees to an easy win in a regional semifinal contest at Miami High School.
Miami High remained undefeated (13-0) and will travel to play Hialeah at Hialeah High School at 4 p.m. on Tuesday in a regional final with a trip to the state final four in Tampa on the line.
“I could see them [Ferguson defenders] start arguing with each other when I was getting away on some runs,” Richard said. “I love it because it throws their whole game off. Now we need one more for state so we have to go get it.”
Richard scored one touchdown with her feet and threw for two more with her arm while also picking off two Falcon passes from her free safety position.
Her run came on MHS’s first possesion, a 21yarder on fourth-and-1 She then hit Destiny Weldon for a 13-yard touchdown pass on fourth down just 28 seconds before halftime before wrapping things up with a 65-yard toss to Shekinah Rachel in the fourth quarter.
Ferguson (11-2) struggled offensively as the Falcons never passed the Stings 30 yard line and had it not been for Savanah Ward’s two interceptions, the score might have been worse.
▪ Region 4-1A semifinal — Edison 13, Jackson 12: Trailing 12-6 early in the fourth quarter, Edison quarterback Jaquala Brown engineered a 40-yard drive, hitting Brittany Julius for a 13-yard touchdown with 8:17 left and Iranna Hines dived for the goal line for the all-important conversion that gave the Red Raiders the win at Traz Powell Stadium.
Edison remained undefeated (10-0) and will travel to Coconut Creek High School on Tuesday at 7 p.m. for a regional final with the winner advancing to the state final four in Tampa.
“We were down and I knew it was just time to go after it and find a way to get my team downfield,” said Brown. “I try to sell the run on the play and when the defense committed to come up and get me, that left Brittany wide open and I hit her.”
After falling behind 6-0 in the first quarter, Jackson (8-4) led by quarterback T’Nieya Dotson battled back as she hit Xavianna Carr with a 32 yard touchdown just before halftime to tie the game and then led her team on a 66 yard, 12 play drive to open the second half, scoring from 4 yards out to put the Generals in the lead.
▪ Region 4-2A semifinal — Hialeah 14, Everglades 7: Ja’Keira Battles hit Diamond Celestine with a pair of second-half touchdown passes to rally the T-Breds, who improved to 12-3 and will host Miami High on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in a regional final.
▪ Region 4-1A semifinal: Coconut Creek 13, Monsignor Pace 0: In a battle of undefeated teams, it was the host Cougars who prevailed as Pace finished its season 13-1.
Creek will host Edison in a regional final on Tuesday at 7 p.m.