Lafayette heads to title game
Published: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 2:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 2:48 p.m.
VERO BEACH — All season, the Lafayette High School softball team has lived with enormous expectations.
Not only were the Hornets the defending Class 1A state softball champions, but back-to-back state champions in volleyball as well. So why not a set of state titles, four total in two years?
After Wednesday's 5-1 win over Chipley in the 1A state semifinals, No. 2 Lafayette will get that opportunity when it plays top-ranked Liberty County for another title today at 11:05 a.m. at the Vero Beach Sports Village.
Liberty County (24-3) eliminated Pierson Taylor in the other 1A state semifinal, 14-3.
“It has definitely been one of our goals, we tried not to focus on it during the season and have had short-term goals and long-term goals,” said senior Kaleigh Law, who had a two-run single in Lafayette's three-run third inning, putting the Hornets in control 5-1.
“We tried to play one game at a time, one pitch at a time,” said freshman Lacey Swafford, who had two hits, including a triple. “We focused on what we had to do then, do our job and move on.”
Chipley (12-13), batting first, grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning on Kendal Daniels' sacrifice fly that scored Sara Gilbert, who reached on an opening walk and moved to third on Kara Bush's double.
The Hornets (21-5) answered with a run in the first, when Sydney Shows, who also had two hits, singled in Swafford, who opened with her triple. Ashley Freeman, batting ninth, singled with two outs in the second, stole second and scored on a Tigers' outfield error, giving Lafayette a 2-1 lead.
Lindsay O'Steen singled in the third inning, stole second and third, and scored on a passed ball. A walk to Lydia Land and single by Ashlyn Perry set up Law's two-run single to center for a four-run advantage.
Despite a shaky start on the mound, O'Steen settled down to throw six shutout innings, giving up just four hits with five strikeouts. In the second, Chipley had runners on second and third, but O'Steen struck out Gilbert to end the threat.
“I don't know if it was nerves, but I was not throwing my game at all,” said O'Steen, the 1A volleyball player of the year. “After that, when I realized we were hitting their pitcher well and my team was going to back me up that I could just settle down.
“It is very relaxing now in that we have had so much pressure and so much expectations this year. To finally reach the final game is a relief.”
In today's final, the Hornets are facing the hottest team in 1A in Liberty County, winners of 18 straight. A year ago, the Bulldogs were upset by Port St. Joe, 5-4, in the regional finals.
“I think now they are going to be able to relax a little bit,” Lafayette coach Derek Garland said of his team. “We are where we want to be. All year long these girls have continued to come through. When the situation becomes tougher, they seem to play better. I have enjoyed to be a part of them and glad to play the last day with them.”
Contact Larry Savage at 352-374-5050 or firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/sunpreps