HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL

Columbia wins its first softball state title


The Columbia Tigers celebrate with the trophy after defeating the Pembroke Pines Jaguars 6-2 to win the 6A state softball championship on Sunday in Vero Beach.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 3:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, May 12, 2013 at 3:07 p.m.

VERO BEACH — It took nearly 17 hours to complete because of a weather delay, but the end result was just as sweet for the Columbia softball team.

The Tigers are the Class 6A state champions.

Picking up where they left off after Saturday's suspension of play, Columbia, leading 3-0, got a big two out, two-run double by junior Kayli Kvistad to left-center in the sixth inning Sunday in a 6-2 title win over defending state champion Pembroke Pines Charter at the Vero Beach Sports Village.

It is the school's first state title in the sport and capped off 13 straight victories by the Tigers (28-4), who set a school record for wins in a season.

Columbia pitchers Erin Anderson and Ashley Shoup combined for a no-hitter, although the two did issue five walks, had a hit-by-pitch and wild pitch. Anderson (15-2) got the win, her second at state.

“We like to make things interesting,” said Columbia coach Jimmy Williams. “I just heard we got a no-hitter in a championship game. Our goal has been to jump out in front every single game we played here. It worked out in our favor.

“We kept putting pressure on them. We treated it like it was a brand new game. We were at the top of our order and we needed to get some more runs. We won the first game, 3-0, and won the second game, 3-2. We were counting down the outs.”

Kvistad, a third baseman who is committed to UF, took a two-strike pitch and blasted a liner in left-center, scoring two runs in the sixth to pad the Tigers' lead to 5-0 in the sixth. She later scored on the second of two errors by Pembroke Pines in that inning, for a 6-0 advantage.

The Jaguars (21-4) scored two runs, off no hits, taking advantage of a pair of walks, a hit batter and a wild pitch.

“I kept saying from the beginning that three wasn't enough, this is a good team we are playing,” Kvistad said. “They made it to state two straight years. With that hit, it lifted the pressure off of us. She (Jaguar pitcher Claire Blount) was throwing all outside to me and I was looking for that one pitch I could drive. She happened to throw it with two strikes.

“This feels great. I felt like last year we could have done it, but we were playing for ourselves instead of the team. This year everyone played as a team and everyone wanted it just as much. We all came together as a team together and had such a bond. That's the difference from last year.”

Kvistad is looking forward to her younger sister, Kamdyn, joining the team next season.

Freshman Tatum Morgan put Columbia in front on Saturday with a two-run single in the first off Jaguars starter Claire Blount and an RBI single with two outs in the second for a 3-0 lead.

A double-dose of storms, with lots of rain and lightning, kept the game suspended until it was ultimately called for Saturday night just after 9.

Kvistad, Tatum Morgan and Lacey King all had two hits for the Tigers in the state final.

Columbia lived on the edge for much of the regionals, beating Middleburg 2-1 in the quarterfinals, 3-1 over Orange Park Oakleaf in the semifinals and 2-1 over Lynn Haven Mosley in the regional final. Brandy Morgan was the hero in that game with her seventh-inning RBI.

“I always knew we could do it,” Anderson said. “Once we got on a winning streak I thought we could do it. I am so happy for them (seniors). Our crowd is awesome, the best crowd ever.”

Two years ago, Columbia lost to Niceville in the regional finals. Last year, the Tigers were upset by Oakleaf in the regional quarterfinals.

“I told them this is the best team I've ever seen,” Williams said. “When I say team, I'm saying they are a cohesive group that enjoys each other's company, they play hard for each other, they play hard for the coaches, the parents let us do our jobs, and the end result is this.”

With only one senior in their starting lineup, the odds of the Tigers returning to state are pretty good. Columbia has a strong junior class with such players as Kvistad, Brandy Morgan, Brittany Morgan and Hollianne Dohrn.

“It is really exciting, we are all very excited,” said Tatum Morgan. “I'm just happy to be here and play as a team. Especially with the bond we have. We had the mindset that this is just another game and to get it done.”

“I have never been so happy in my life,” Dohrn said. “I think the rain delay had no effect on our hitting. I love our community, without our fans we couldn't do anything.”

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