Broward High Schools

Rivals Coral Reef, Palmetto advance, to face off again

Coral Reef’s Gigi Stouffer score during a regional playoff game against Lourdes on Wednesday.
Coral Reef’s Gigi Stouffer score during a regional playoff game against Lourdes on Wednesday. pfarrell@miamiherald.com

Playing their respective regional quarterfinal games literally a hundred feet from each other, district rivals Coral Reef and Palmetto tried not to peak over at each other on Tuesday night.

But when both games were over at Palmetto Bay Park, they were both in the win column and are once again on a collision course with each other.

Coral Reef brought out the big bats and took care of Lourdes 14-6 on one field while Palmetto scored early and often, clubbing Southwest 13-3 in five innings on the opposite field. For the fifth consecutive year, the two teams will square off in the regional semifinal with the game slated for next 7 p.m. Tuesday at Palmetto Bay.

“Palmetto is what we get up for and what we practice for,” said Coral Reef coach Dario Rodriguez. “Our goal every year is to go to state and we understand that it usually goes through them and if they go to state it goes through us so we’re looking forward to another good one next week. If we hit the ball the way we did tonight, we’ll have a shot.”

The Barracudas (17-9) enjoyed a huge offensive night as they pounded out 18 hits against Lourdes pitching and the long ball was a big part as they belted three home runs, two by Jenice Casanas.

“It felt great to come out and get the bats going tonight for all of us,” said Casanas. “I wasn’t really thinking about the long ball, just trying to drive the ball somewhere and it just worked out. We’re looking forward to another crack at Palmetto next week.”

Coral Reef broke a scoreless tie by plating three runs in the top of the third thanks to a one-out RBI double by Katerina Boix and, with runners on second and third and two outs, a two-RBI single by Bri Romaguera.

Lourdes answered Reef’s three with two of its own in the bottom of the third when, with second and third and one out, Nicole Gonzalez delivered an RBI infield single followed by Natasha Gonzalez’s RBI sacrifice flyout to left.

The Barracudas immediately got their two-run lead back in the fourth thanks to the big bat of Gigi Stouffer. With a runner on third and one out, Stouffer launched a towering drive over the left field fence to a two-run homer. One inning later, with two outs, Casanas drilled her first homer, a three-run shot to the exact same place to make it 8-2.

After Lourdes (18-10) rallied to cut the lead to 8-6, the Barracudas exploded for six in the top of the seventh as Casanas launched her second homer.

“We’ve been struggling offensively and I decided to really juggle the lineup up tonight and I guess it worked,” said Rodriguez. “Let’s hope it carries over to next week.”

▪ Region 4-9A quarterfinal — Palmetto 13, Southwest 3: Looking to get to the state final four for the second straight year, Palmetto took care of business by easily dispatching.

After getting stunned by an Anais Mauri home run to lead off the game for Southwest (18-8), the Panthers (23-2) quickly recovered by scoring six times in the bottom of the inning and never looked back.

Hannah Burge (3-for-4, 2 runs), Jayla Digennaro (3-for-3, 2 RBI) and Jailah Williams (3-for-4, 2 RBI) led the way for Palmetto.

BILL DALEY

▪ Region 4-5A quarterfinal — Coral Springs Charter 10, Fort Pierce Lincoln Park 0 (5 innings): If a Coral Springs Charter hitter put one over the fence, the ball was retrieved and taken out of play as a souvenir for that slugger.

The umpires seemed worried the Panthers didn't have enough softballs to put into play as they hit three — including back-to-back jacks to lead off the second —over the fence in the early going of an opening-round rout of the visiting Greyhounds (11-7). The Panthers (26-1) will play host to LaBelle or Pompano Beach on Tuesday.

“Our bats really came alive,” said coach Mark Montimurro, whose team is vying to win Broward’s first three-peat in fast-pitch softball.

Amanda Flynn led off what would be a five-run first with a triple down the left field line.

Up 1-0, pitcher Ally Muraskin helped her cause with a two-run double before Aliza Laboy cracked one over the centerfield fence. In the second, Kiara Meikle and Flynn homered to get that three-run inning going.

GEORGE RICHARDS

MORE SOFTBALL

▪ Region 4-9A Quarterfinals — Coral Gables 16, Hialeah 0 (3 innings): WP: Angie Bonilla (9-3) 3 IP, 2H, 4K, 2-3, 3B, 2 RBI, R. LP: J.D. Barrio. CG (18-7): Ashley Knapp 3-3, 3 RBI. Melanie Rodriguez 3-3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R. Rebecca Rodriguez 2-3, 3 RBI, R, SB. Natalie Regalado 2-2, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 3 R. Valerie Madriz 2-2, RBI, 2 R. HIA 14-9.

▪ Region 4-6A Quarterfinals — Miami Springs 5, Archbishop McCarthy 1: Mallory Mitnick (22-2) 11 K’s, 2 H, 3-4. MS (22-2): Jasmin Echeverria 1-1, 3 RBI. Kristen Medina 2-3, RBI.

▪ Region 3-9A Quarterfinals — Douglas 13, Flanagan 1 (5 innings).

▪ Region 3-4A Quarterfinals — American 15, Miami Beach 0: WP: Ashley Alfonso (15-2), 3 IP, 5 K’s, 1-1, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 BB. LP: Demetriades. AME (18-7): Yanelys Fernandez 3-3, 5 RBI, 2 R. Tyenna Colon 3-4, 2 2B, RBI, 3 R. Karla Soza 2-2, 2B, 4 R, 2 BB, SB.

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