Gainesville softball falls in state semifinals

Gainesville players walk off the field after the state semifinal game against Pembroke Pines on Friday in Vero Beach. The Hurricanes lost 4-2.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, May 10, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, May 11, 2013 at 12:41 a.m.

VERO BEACH — The result wasn't what Gainesville was looking for, although for most softball observers on hand Pembroke Pines Charter's 4-2 victory in the Class 6A softball state semifinals Friday at the Vero Beach Sports Village was predictable.

After all, the Jaguars were the defending state champions and had outscored their playoff opponents 28-0. But this certainly wasn't the one-sided affair many had predicted.

The Hurricanes were right there with a shot at the end, with two runners aboard, down two with two outs when junior Ashton Davis hit a deep fly to center that was caught to end it.

Second-ranked Pembroke Pines (21-3) will look to add a second straight state title today when it takes on No. 1 Columbia (27-4) at 4:35 p.m.

The Jaguars broke a 1-1 tie with a three-run fourth inning that proved to be the difference. The Hurricanes (20-9) outhit Pembroke Pines and had the only extra-base hit, a double by senior Taylor Wooden in the fifth. Freshman Allie Wilkerson went 3-for-3 at the plate with one run scored and an RBI.

Freshman pitcher Katie Chronister (10-6) took the loss, scattering seven hits with one walk and eight strikeouts. Only one run by the Jaguars was earned.

It ended a historical run by GHS, which had struggled early in the season but certainly not at the close of it.

“Today, it was just a difficult loss for us, we played the defending champions and we played like we were the defending champions I thought,” said GHS coach Peter Mariano. “We played so well. An error here, or failure to get a big hit there, is the difference between us winning the game. And that is just softball.

“Then to battle back to the last inning and being a couple of feet from tying the score, being down 0-2 and Ashton hits it to deep center, that is the way it goes. They (Hurricanes) are going to be back. We have a fairly young team. These freshmen have such confidence.”

For Gainesville players, knowing they accomplished firsts such as a regional championship and the first state tournament berth in school history meant little following the loss.

“It has been a great season,” said an emotional senior Stephanie Caudle, who will attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “We just came together as a team. Whenever we were down we would somehow come out on top. It was just a great season.”

Chronister felt her team outplayed the defending state champions.

“We knew what they had, if anything it pumped us up,” she said. “We had to come out harder and I felt we did. We outplayed them, I don't care what the score says.

“I may be a freshman and we may come back here and at the same time we may not. It wasn't about me pitching good, it was for the seniors and for everyone who really wanted it. It was a pretty good run.”

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