Rick Patrick: Greene Publishing, Inc
Being in the Final Four in the Class 2A state softball championship is
nothing new for the Aucilla Christian Academy (ACA) Lady Warriors. The defending state champions once again made the trip south to Vero Beach to meet familiar foes and, hopefully, come home with yet another state title.
First they had to meet Glades Day School in the state semifinal game on Wednesday, May 17. Behind the flawless pitching of Elizabeth Hightower and Abigail Morgan, along with solid hitting from the entire squad, the Lady Warriors seemed to have very little trouble taking care of business against Glades Day. The Lady Warriors finished off Glades Day with a 5-0 shut-out. The Lady Warriors went up early, scoring two runs in the first inning, then added insurance runs in the fourth and fifth innings.
Kelly Horne went two-for-four at the plate with one RBI. Natalie Sorensen was two-for-three with one RBI. Ashlyn Rogers had two hits in her four trips to the plate, while driving in two runs. Morgan was one-for-four with one RBI for the Lady Warriors. Lindsey Davis, Ramsey Sullivan, and Carly Joiner also had hits for the Lady Warriors. Hightower and Morgan combined efforts on the mound, giving up no hits and no earned runs, while registering 14 strike-outs.
Then on Thursday, May 18, it was time to meet a very familiar foe, the Canterbury High School Lady Crusaders, from St. Petersburg. This is not the first time the two schools have squared off against one another in the state championship race. In 2015 and 2016, ACA defeated Canterbury in the State Semi-final game. In 2014, ACA lost to Canterbury in the state title game. Earlier this season, the Lady Warriors defeated the Lady Crusaders in a regular season game. No doubt, this history was on the minds of both teams. It took nine innings to determine a winner. This time it would be the Lady Crusaders who would come out on top with a 2-1 final score. The game was scoreless in the first inning. Then in the top of the second inning, Sorensen hit a solo home run for the Lady Warriors' only run scored. The Lady Crusaders tied the score with one run in the bottom of the fourth inning. The score remained tied at the end of regulation, calling for extra innings. At one point, the Lady Warriors found themselves with runners on second and third with just one out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Hightower, pitching in relief of Morgan, managed to work her way out of that hole. Despite getting two runners on base in the top of the ninth inning, the Lady Warriors failed to capitalize. Then in the bottom half of the ninth inning, Hightower again found herself in a hole with runners on second and third and only one out. This time, the Lady Crusaders managed to bring the winning run home.
At the plate, the Lady Warriors were productive, despite the lack of runs. The Lady Warriors managed to get 10 hits throughout the course of the game. Three ACA base-runners received free trips to first base, courtesy of walks by the Canterbury pitcher. ACA only had two strike-outs.
The Lady Warriors finished their 2017 campaign with an 18-9 final record.