The experience of winning a state softball championship was clearly in Westminster Christian’s possession.
They were the two-time defending champion entering their Class 4A state semifinal against Tampa Catholic on Tuesday.
With the 7-2 victory at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex secured, the Warriors (24-8) can concentrate on Jacksonville Trinity Christian and the bid for a third consecutive state title and sixth overall. The final is set for Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.
“We played good competition and Tampa Catholic was a really good team,” said Westminster Christian coach Scott Doan. “Their pitcher kind of handcuffed us for part of the game, but we made adjustments to get some late runs.”
Sophomore infielder Hailey Donovan had a two-run single for the Warriors in the bottom of the sixth inning that essentially sealed the victory. It was part of a four-run rally that would sink any comeback thoughts by the Crusaders.
Tampa Catholic (19-10) managed a run in the top of the seventh and nearly had two runners in scoring position.
Freshman pitcher Isabella Artiles held the Crusaders to a lone run in the top of the third and a meaningless run in the top of the seventh to earn the victory. She would finish with a six-hitter and four strikeouts.
“I felt I had to pitch against Tampa Catholic to put the ball in play,” Artiles said. “I didn’t try to strike everyone out, because I trust my defense.”
With an opportunity to win a third consecutive championship, Arties said the team has had that target on their back all season.
“Everyone wants to beat us,” said Artiles. “We have to stay humble and play as hard as we can tomorrow. I think we can win it.”
Westminster scored two runs in the bottom of the second inning and another in the bottom of the third for a 3-1 lead.
Madeline Diaz and Melissa Leon each went 2-for-4 with a run and RBI for the Warriors.