P.K. Yonge powers past St. Joseph in three innings
Published: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 11:25 p.m.
To say P.K. Yonge's softball team is on a roll would be an understatement.
The Blue Wave are literally riding high tide these days and leaving opponents in their wake.
The latest came Tuesday in the semifinals of the District 3-3A tournament, when host P.K. Yonge clobbered St. Augustine St. Joseph 18-0 in three innings for its 11th straight victory.
After only scoring three runs in the first inning, the Blue Wave (24-2) had batting practice in the second, scoring 15 runs on 11 hits with coach Paul Silverman substituting many of his starters as the hitting cycle repeated.
And standout junior pitcher Kalen McGill, who hit her seventh homer of the season in the first inning, tossed a perfect game, facing the minimum nine batters with five strikeouts and no hits. It was her sixth no-hitter of the season.
The win advances P.K. Yonge to Thursday's championship game against Oak Hall (14-7), a 4-2 winner over St. Francis in the opening semifinal. That game is set for 7 p.m. In two meetings this season, the Blue Wave have outscored the Eagles 25-0.
Dominating districts is nothing new for the Blue Wave, who have won three straight district titles and are ranked No. 4 in 3A by Miracle Sports. But advancing out of the regionals, with teams like No. 3 Jacksonville Bishop Snyder as once again a possible regional final opponent, means the Blue Wave must play at a high level to prepare for such matchups.
“We have played at a very high level all year,” said Silverman, who is in his seventh year at P.K. Yonge. “We have played a strong schedule. We have played some good teams and at their place, we did that intentionally. We went to Atlantic Coast (a 6-0 loss), a place where we have never been before. That situation may come up in the playoffs, where we get on a bus and go to some place we have never been before and play against a hostile crowd.
“This team I think is tested. The difficulty is staying sharp as we go through the early stages of the district tournament and the regionals. That is the coach's job.”
The Blue Wave have speed (countless stolen bases, freshman Nikkia Robinson with three bunt singles), power (McGill's shot to left-center; Sara Hendrix triple in 2nd; and Garland Evans and Andrea Suarez with doubles), fielding (no errors) and a dominating pitcher (McGill), who has just 12 walks in 129 innings with 159 strikeouts.
“One of the difficult jobs when you are coaching a team is not to look ahead, because you never know what could happen,” Silverman said. “You find a way to challenge them. I didn't feel like we came out with much energy for the first inning and were kind of going through the motions. So I challenged them immediately at that point. Try to force them, even when we play a team that is not as strong as us, to play at their level rather than the opponent's.”
OAK HALL 4, ST. FRANCIS 2: Freshmen Catherine Euliano and Shelby West each had two hits and eighth-grade pitcher Katie-Grace Olinger allowed just three hits as the Eagles held off the Wolves to clinch a postseason berth.
Oak Hall (14-7) scored all of its runs in the second inning, highlighted by a two-run double by sixth-grader Jolie Watson and an RBI double by Euliano.
St. Francis (8-14) pulled within two runs after scoring a pair in the sixth, but the Eagles held on to advance to Thursday's district championship.
“I want to give St. Francis credit, they came out and played their hardest,” said first-year coach Brittany Schutte, a former Gator softball slugger. “They had a lot of energy today. Our girls played OK. We did what we had to do to get the job done. We look forward to our opponent on Thursday and we will work hard tomorrow in practice.
“We are very young. I still have girls losing baby teeth on my team. It is going to come with experience, learning how to compete at that level (playing P.K. Yonge).”