There was very little drama leading up to Wednesday night’s GMAC softball final.
Having squared off five of the last six years in the championship game, nobody expected it to be anybody other than longtime district rivals Coral Reef and Palmetto, which turned out to be the case again.
But what nobody probably expected, in what has been a highly competitive and balanced rivalry over the years, was for one team to completely dominate.
That was the case for Palmetto as the Panthers closed out a day of total domination by clobbering Coral Reef 12-1 in a six-inning mercy rule contest at Palmetto Bay Park. It also marked an unprecedented fourth consecutive GMAC championship for Palmetto, the last three coming against Reef.
It followed up a pair of lopsided wins earlier in the day after the Panthers wiped out American 18-0 and Goleman 11-0 in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, bringing the day’s total run differential to 41-1.
“I can’t stress enough how well the girls played tonight, especially with it being their third game of the day,” said Palmetto head coach Emilio Exposito, who saw his team improve to 19-4. “We’ve been struggling to get out of the gate quickly all season so jumping out on them early was really big and we were good from there.”
Exposito referred to the top of the first inning when Cassandra Martinez led the game off with a triple before Katie Burge, Lauren Margolis, Olivia Rapp and April Bonwit followed up with RBI singles off Reef starter Brianna Romaguerra. The Panthers were up 4-0 before the first out was recorded.
Leading 7-1, they then plated five runs in the top of the sixth and wound up with 16 hits for the game. Meanwhile, Palmetto starter Ashely Sutta was outstanding on the mound, giving up just three hits, one of those a Cassidy Stouffer second inning home run which accounted for Reef’s only run.
“Our plan is to go out there and try and win every inning and that’s pretty much what we did tonight,” said Rapp who went 3-for-3 with two RBIs. “Even with the big lead though, we knew we needed to stay humble and keep playing because neither one of these teams ever quits.”
Rapp referred to Palmetto’s 12-11 victory over the Barracudas three weeks ago when Coral Reef actually led 10-0 at one point.
“I pulled them aside at one point and reminded every one of the girls that if we can do that to them, they can certainly do it to us,” said Exposito. “Ashley was shut-down out there tonight along with solid defense so we did a good job of never allowing them back in it. Now we get ready for next week.”
Exposito referred to next week’s district tournament at Southridge High School where a fourth meeting between the two will likely take place. Beyond that, a regional semifinal down the road is also likely which will be the most important of five matchups as the winner will move on and the loser will see its season end.
QUARTERFINALS: Palmetto 18, American 0 (3 inn.); Coral Gables 10, Miami Springs 0 (6 inn.); Goleman 14, Ferguson 11; Coral Reef 14, TERRA 1 (5 inn.).
SEMIFINALS: Coral Reef 4, Coral Gables 1; Palmetto 11, Goleman 0.
▪ Southridge 4, Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian 2: The host Spartans pulled off an upset over defending Class 4A state champion Calvary Christian, which was ranked No. 8 nationally in the latest Baseball America top 25 poll. Southridge (17-6) is on a six-game winning streak and is a perfect 10-0 at home this year. Calvary Christian (18-2), meanwhile, dropped its first game since losing its season opener to Flanagan.
▪ Miami Springs 14, North Miami Beach 3: WP – Anthony Godinez, 3 IP, 2Ks. Anthony Nunez 2-2, 3B, 2B, 5 RBI; Josemanuel Llavore 1-3, 3 RBI; Bruce Yanez 3-4, RBI. MS: 18-0
▪ Hialeah 9, Miami High 0: WP - Erick Andujar complete-game no-hitter, 12 Ks, 1 BB; Peter Hernandez 3-3, 2B, RBI, 2 R; Yohan Canel 2-3, 2B, 4 RBI; HIA: 12-7
▪ Belen 11, Palmetto Ridge 10: WP - Andres Bello 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R; SV - Esteban Rodriguez; Lou DeGoti 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI; Rob Curbelo 1-4, HR, 2 RBI; Joshua Salandy 2-2, 2 R, RBI; Armando Albert 1-4, 2 RBI, 2 SB; Dorian Gonzalez 1-4, 2 R; Gio Cueto 1-4, RBI, R; BEL: 17-4.
▪ Jackson 11, Miami Beach 1
▪ District 14-4A semifinal — Krop 33, Hialeah Gardens 0: Kirra Magana 4 TDs (3 TD receptions, 1 INT returned for TD); Anicia Collins 3 TD passes; Lindsey Weingard 1 TD pass; Kamryn Walker 1 TD reception; Brianna Knowles 1 INT, 2 XPTs; Ayanna Knowles 1 XPT.
▪ Class 4A regional semifinals: St. Thomas Aquinas d. West Broward 5-0; Cypress Bay d. Stoneman Douglas 4-0; Krop d. Columbus 4-1; Palmetto d. Miami Beach 5-0.
▪ Class 3A regional semifinals: TERRA d. Mourning 5-0; Doral d. Pembroke Pines Charter 5-0.
▪ Class 2A regional semifinals: Jackson d. Pine Crest 4-1; Gulliver Prep d. Plantation American Heritage 5-0;
▪ Class 1A regional semifinals: Calvary Christian d. Boca Raton St. John Paul II 5-2; Miami Country Day d. International Studies 4-1; Ransom Everglades d. Divine Savior 5-0.
▪ Class 4A regional semifinals: Stoneman Douglas d. Cooper City 5-0; St. Thomas Aquinas d. Cypress Bay 5-0; Krop d. Ferguson 4-1; Palmetto d. Miami Beach 5-0.
▪ Class 3A regional semifinals: Doral d. Mourning 5-0
▪ Class 2A regional semifinals: Coral Springs Charter d. Lincoln Park 4-0; Pine Crest d. MAST Academy 5-1; Gulliver Prep d. Plantation American Heritage 4-1.
▪ Class 1A regional semifinals: Miami Country Day d. Riviera Prep 4-3; Carrollton d. Divine Savior 4-0.