OAKLEAF – Clay High got a boost in their season preparation to attempt a second Final Four appearance with a comeback that fell short to Oakleaf High in a 10-6 win by the Lady Knights that was …
OAKLEAF – Clay High got a boost in their season preparation to attempt a second Final Four appearance with a comeback that fell short to Oakleaf High in a 10-6 win by the Lady Knights that was knotted at 6-6 in the sixth inning.
Oakleaf (17-1) took the somewhat surprising game against Clay and took action in the Kissimmee Klassic, one of the strongest mid-season tournaments in the southeast, where the Lady Knights returned to defend last year’s Klassic crown.
Oakleaf got to the championship game in the Blue division in dominating fashion with wins of 4-2 over 7A-Lake Region (12-7), 11-0 over St. Thomas Aquinas (9-5) and 4-2 over Cooper City to advance to the tournament final against 8A-Bartow (16-2). Weather forced a postponement of that game to an April 17 game at Oakleaf.
In 2018, Cooper City beat St. Thomas Aquinas in one of last year’s 8A region finals with Cooper City losing to eventual champion Hagerty in the state semifinal. Hagerty beat Oakleaf 1-0 in the 8A championship game.
Keystone Heights, in the Gold division, got wins of 8-3 over 8A-Riverview (9-5) and 7-0 over 1A-Frostproof (17-6, a region finalist in 2018) before losing to 7A-region semi-finalist Tate 5-0 to finish in the third/fourth championship game against Canterbury of St. Pete. That game was ultimately cancelled.
Against Clay, Oakleaf struck first in the first inning with two runs off hits from Baylee Goddard and Jaycie Brookshire to go up 2-0.
With pitchers Mady Davis for Oakleaf and Morgan Crutcher for Clay battling relentlessly from the mound, both teams were unable to budge with Oakleaf getting a double play in the second inning and Crutcher downing three Knights’ batters with strikeouts in the bottom of the second.
In the top of the third, Davis got two quick strikeouts on the first two batters, but gave up a single to Kylee Davis who stole second but was left standing on a groundout to Marianne McDonald.
Crutcher again limited the Oakleaf offense to a groundout and two strikeouts.
In the fourth, Crutcher blinked and Oakleaf scored four runs quickly off singles from Brookshire and Kaylee Lambrecht before Jazmine Lamug sliced an RBI single and Davis hit her own RBI single. A strikeout to Katie Kistler combined with a passed ball finished the scoring at 6-0.
Clay came to bat and coerced two uncharacteristic walks from Davis and a shortstop error to load the bases before Davis walked in a run. With the bases still full, Crutcher unloaded a two run shot to right field off reliever Cambria Arturo to close the game to 6-4.
In the next inning, Goddard grounded oiut in front of a Brookshire walk and a single from Lambrecht before Clay coach Matt Lewis took out Crutcher and put in Kayla McKeen. Clay shortstop Kylee Stacy made a long-range snag and throw on a Lamug grounder to keep Oakleaf from staging the comeback.
With Arturo on the Oakleaf mound, Clay drew two walks and a shortstop error to load the bases a second time with McDonald lacing a run scoring single to left field and Lewis pulling off a run scoring double steal to tie the game at 6-6.
With McKeen having some aiming difficulties, Oakleaf Davis got on with a deep grounder that Stacy retrieved but held her throw. With Caitlynne Lamug walking, Kistler whistled a double over first base to put a run across before Jaeda McFarland looped a single into left field for another run. Goddard grounded out to score one run and Brookshire executed a fabulous squeeze bunt to score another and finish at second base with the score at 10-6.
Crutcher drew a walk in the final at bat for Clay, but Lambrecht snatched two grounders to end the game.
On Wed., April 3, Clay lost a 5-2 district matchup against Ridgeview High. The loss was the first district loss for Clay with the Blue Devils at 4-1 and both Ponte Vedra and Ridgeview chasing with two losses. Ponte Vedra visits Ridgeview on Thurs., April 11 for a 6pm showdown.