VERO BEACH - A ground ball toward third base seemed routine, especially with Baylee Goddard manning her post on the corner, as the Oakleaf High softball team faced off against Hagerty High in the …
VERO BEACH - A ground ball toward third base seemed routine, especially with Baylee Goddard manning her post on the corner, as the Oakleaf High softball team faced off against Hagerty High in the Class 8A championship game on Thurs., May 24 after a rain-soaked week of tournament play that saw the game schedule shifted three times.
“I do think think going that long without facing live pitching took a toll on every team there,” said Oakleaf coach Christina Thompson. “Look at the scores (all 1-0). But it was an equal playing field. We all had to deal with delays and we all had to find ways to keep our kids focused. I’m proud of our performance. I would have liked a different outcome, but I’m proud of what they were able to achieve.”
In the blink of an eye, though, Oakleaf High’s shot at a second consecutive Class 8A title turned into disaster as the ball bounced off the base and over Goddard’s left shoulder to score the only run of the game in Hagerty’s 1-0 win for the title.
Oakleaf (30-3), who had survived a 1-0 win over Lakewood Ranch in their state semifinal the day before, was facing baserunners on second and third after a single, a sacrifice bunt, a passed ball and an intention walk put the Knights’ defense in position to end the inning on any grounder.
“Hitting was not a factor for any team last week,” said Thompson. “All four of the 8A state playoff games were won 1-0. When you have high caliber teams competing, and great pitching, it will lead to low scoring games. Our defense as a whole was exceptional that game (Lakewood Ranch), and Davis (pitcher Madi Davis) threw lights out.”
For Hagerty (26-5), freshman batter Taylor Krapf, who earlier in the game, had two flyouts and was hit by a pitch to earn her solo base for the game, stayed alive with a long flyball to left field and foul of a sacrifice bunt attempt to move pinchrunner Olivia Lipari to second base. Lipari took over baserunning duties after a sharp grounder from Hagerty senior pitcher Ashley Worrell got snatched by Goddard on a dive in front of shortstop Kaylee Lambrecht, but a late throw to first base put the Huskies on base. Krapf would get a bunt to move Lipari to put the Huskies in scoring position, but a long flyball to right field put two outs on the scoreboard.
Hagerty’s next batter, senior Gabi Mathre, who had three hits in three at bats, was awarded first base to give the Knights’ defense a better shot at ending the inning off a grounder. The walk was Oakleaf’s lone walk for the game between pitchers Cambria Arturo and Madi Davis, who entered in the fourth inning.
With the two outs and two runners in place, Davis’ first pitch to Krapf got under catcher Angela Agurkis’ glove as both runners advanced to scoring position a base closer.
Davis would regroup with a strike on a mighty swing as Krapf looked to end the game with a big hit. A long foul ball toward left field followed before Krapf got a pass on a nearly perfect Davis strike that put the count at two balls, two strikes.
Davis’ next pitch headed inside Krapf’s strike zone and Krapf’s swing put the ball headed straight to Goddard at third.
Goddard, shadowing Lipari at third base, slid right to cover the base, but the ball hit the corner of the base and bounced over Goddard’s left shoulder as it headed to left field with baserunner Lipari on the move to home plate.
“There is nothing that Baylee could have done on that ball. It was just a very unfortunate bounce,” said Oakleaf coach Christina Thompson. “It hit the bag just before she was due to receive it.”
With baserunners still on the corners; first and third base, two-hit batter Tyler Miller was struck out swinging to end the inning.
Down 1-0, a bottom of the seventh inning Oakleaf comeback was not entirely out of the question as Goddard, who had struck out twice, blasted a single through the shortstop hole and was moved to second on an Agurkis’ bunt. A fielder’s choice grounder from AspenWindesheim put Goddard at third for what could have been yet another suicide squeeze bunt run to tie the game and lead to yet another thrilling Oakleaf finish.
This time, as opposed to seventh inning thrillers versus Fleming Island and Tallahassee Lincoln that kept the Knights’ title hopes alive, batter Madison Mifsud grounded to third base to end the inning with the third out.
“Madison is a great hitter,” said Thompson. “If (she) squeezed in that situation and they were smart enough to go to first, the game would have been over as well.”
Oakleaf got the to championship game with a 1-0 win over Lakewood Ranch that avenged a nine inning 7-6 loss earlier in the season at the Oakleaf Tournament of Champions.
Against Lakewood Ranch, on Wed., May 23, Oakleaf won 1-0 in typical seventh inning fashion only in the first inning with Katie Kistler singling, Lambrecht flyballing her to second with Rebecca Koskey walking and stealing second to put Kistler at third. a Goddard bunt pushed across the lone run across.
“The combination of her (Davis) on the mound, and a hungry defense behind her added up to only the second shutout for Lakewood Ranch this season,” said Thompson. “The only other team to shut them out was the 2A state champions (Academy of the Lakes) who’s pitcher is headed to Alabama.”
Davis went the distance on the mound for Oakleaf with three strikeouts and six hits, but with excellent defense behind her thwarting 11 runners left on base. Lakewood Ranch left runners at first and second in the second with Davis striking out for the third out.
In the third, Agurkis nailed a baserunner with Lambrecht on a steal attempt to end that inning.
In the fourth, Windesheim snagged a high foul ball on the first base fence with Davis striking out the third out.
In the fifth, Goddard sprinted up on a popped up bunt attempt to snag the first out of that inning with an communication error between Destiny Pacetti, in left field, and Lambrecht on a short blooper put a runner at first base, but a flyout ended that threat.
In the bottom of the fifth, Kistler would get her second hit of the day, but Lambrecht would strike out to leave her there.
Lakewood Ranch got s single and walk in the sixth, but Koskey snagged a grounder to second base to end the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, still 1-0, Goddard walked, but grounders kept her from advancing.
In the fateful seventh, with Oakleaf up 1-0, Lakewood Ranch would get a single, a stolen base and a fielder’s choice grounder to Windesheim at first base before Davis hit a batter to have baserunners on first and third. On her first pitch after the hit batter, Davis got a pop up just inside the third base line that she snagged on the run and nearly toppling to salvage the final out.