OAKLEAF–Oakleaf High School’s girls softball team threw down an opening salvo hard hits and quick scores in their first at bats against visiting East Ridge High in the region 1-8A championship …
OAKLEAF–Oakleaf High School’s girls softball team threw down an opening salvo hard hits and quick scores in their first at bats against visiting East Ridge High in the region 1-8A championship game and finished up with catcher Angela Agurkis asserting herself as the focal point in the Lady Knights’ 9-1 thrashing of the “other” Knights Friday night at Oakleaf High School.
“We don’t consider what we are doing as defending our title from 2017, but more attacking the title for 2018,” said Oakleaf coach Christina Thompson. “The big hits definitely came back tonight. Angela Agurkis was outstanding. I think we still have work to do. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Oakleaf (29-2) returns to the Final Four on Sat., May 19 to face off with Lakewood Ranch (24-4) in the state semifinals in a rematch of their semifinal loss at the Oakleaf High Tournament of Champions tournament in March; a 7-6 nine inning bonanza. Oakleaf, the district 1-8A champion over Atlantic Coast; a 10-0 win, advanced to the Final Four with a thrilling 2-1 win over Tallahassee Lincoln, a 4-0 win over Tallahassee Chiles and, now, the 9-1 win over East Ridge.
Lakewood Ranch, the district 8-8A champion and a region final 1-0 loser to Plant City in 2017, beat Pinellas Park 14-2 in five innings, East Lake 7-0 and Plant City 9-2 in their region final. Also in the Final Four will be Hagerty, the district 9-8A runnerup who faces 15-8A champion Cooper City. Hagerty (24-5) advanced with wins over St. Cloud, 4-0, Winter Springs 3-0 and George Jenkins 5-1. Cooper City (23-5 and region finals loser to St. Thomas Aquinas last year) advanced with a 10-0 win over Mater Dei Charter, 15-0 over Nova in four innings and 2-1 over St. Thomas Aquinas in the region final. Oakleaf beat St. Thomas Aquinas 10-0 in the state semifinal last year en route to beating Wellington 6-1 for the Class 8A title.
Junior pitcher Madyson Davis likes the momentum of the past three games as the Lady Knights seem to be peaking with their bats at the right time.
“Honestly, I feel like God is with us,” said Davis, who got seventh inning relief from Cambria Arturo who ended the game with two strikeouts and a flyball. “Luckily, I think today we had all four parts of our game clicking; running, hitting, defense and pitching. I think Cambria and myself offer a pretty formidable pitching duo.”
Against East Ridge, Agurkis, at catcher and one of the bomb hitters for the power-packed lineup of Rebecca Koskey, Baylee Goddard and Kaylee Lambrecht that exploded in the first inning for three runs off a single from Katie Kistler, a single to centerfield from Lambrecht and a walk to Koskey that gave the Lady Knights two shots to score a bucket of runs with Goddard up to bat and Agurkis to follow.
“I was due,” said Agurkis, who planted a run-scoring bunt in dramatic fashion in Oakleaf’s 3-2 district semifinal win over Fleming Island to keep the Oakleaf train on the tracks two weeks prior. “I was thinking in my head, I really want to hit the ball and tonight was going to be my night. Finally.”
Goddard hit a fielder’s choice grounder to shortstop that got Kistler out at home on the force play to set up one of the more dramatic three run doubles in softball lore with Agurkis smashing a ball to the centerfield fence that got Lambrecht home first with Koskey and Goddard in close pursuit around third base and Agurkis sprinting hard off second base. With all three girls on full steam running and the ball getting back to home plate just after Koskey scored, East Ridge had a series of confused throws that forced Goddard back toward third, Agurkis reversing and heading back to second where an errant throw turned Goddard back to home plate and a run and Agurkis winding up at second base when the dust settled. Oakleaf, of course, was up 3-0.
East Ridge responded with a double off pitcher Madi Davis to open the inning and a run scored off a singled from Reese Moss to left field. With East Ridge gaining some momentum with a walk putting two baserunners in play, a popped up bunt was caught on the fly by Agurkis in one of the bigger plays of the night to squash a scoring opportunity before Lambrecht corraled a rifled shot to the shortstop hole and got the final out at third base.
“She (Agurkis) was tremendous behind the plate,” said Thompson. “She was quick and trying to make opportunities.”
Oakleaf looked to add more runs in the second inning with a bases loaded scenario coming from a walk, an error on a Kistler whistler to shortstop and a walk to Koskey, but Goddard hit a fly ball to right field to leave the runners stranded.
Oakleaf was able to chip in some insurance runs in the third with Pacetti singling in one on a fielder’s choice grounder to put the score at 4-1 and Agurkis blasting another double in the fourth to score Goddard from second who sliced a shot past third base.
Up 5-1, Davis took control of the mound to shut down the East Ridge offense while Thompson put in some reserve players for some championship game time.
In the sixth, the Oakleaf bats erupted for four more runs with top of the lineup; Kistler opening with a walk, Lambrecht and Koskey singling with Koskey’s hit scoring both teammate who were positioned at second and third after steals.
“When we get the insurance runs, I want them to start having fun,” said Thompson. “When we get a decent lead, I think we have the pitching to hold teams at bay.”
A wicked line drive from Goddard over third base put Koskey at third before Agurkis blasted a a two-run single for the final runs.