By Matt Wiley | NEW TAMPA
Despite having an outstanding regular season record of 17-2, the hopes of a District title have ended for the girls of the Freedom Patriots softball team. But, even though the Freedom girls lost in the finals of the Class 7A-District 9 playoffs, losing 4-2 to the top-seeded Chamberlain Chiefs in the District title game, which was played at Freedom on April 18. Freedom and Chamberlain both had 7-1 records in the District during the regular season.
Because they ended up as the District tourney runner-up, the Pats would bring their 18-3 overall record into the Region 7A playoffs, where they were set to play Countryside (24-3) on April 23. The playoffs had an optimistic start for the Patriots, following a close 2-1 District semifinal victory on April 17 against the Steinbrenner Warriors. The game remained scoreless until the fifth, Maxpreps.com reports, following a Warriors run, but RBIs from Patriots junior Rachel Carlson (.433 batting average, 21 RBIs & 25 runs scored) and freshman Maddy Hall (.394, 25 runs scored, team-best 9 stolen bases) put the Pats ahead with a 2-1 lead that would seal the team’s victory, advancing them to the District Championship against Chamberlain.
The Chiefs wasted no time against the Patriots, scoring in the top of the first inning and setting the tone for the remainder of the game. The Patriots were playing catchup and wouldn’t cross the plate until the bottom of the sixth inning, when they were already trailing by 4 runs. Seniors Katlin Hall (.452, team-best 6 2Bs, 22 RBIs, plus a 6-3 pitching record with a sparkling 1.09 ERA) and Caitlin Harper (.274, 2 HRs) batted in Maddy Hall and Carlson for a run each, but it wasn’t enough to catch up with the Chiefs.
Other top players for Freedom include senior Caroline Whiteside (.344, 21 RBIs & 6 SBs) and sophomore Grace Street (team-best .460 BA & 29 hits, plus a perfect 9-0 on the mound, a 1.02 ERA and 37 Ks in 54.2 IP).
Wharton Falls To Durant
After rallying past Bloomingdale to advance to the Class 8A-District 7 Championship, the Wharton Lady Wildcats (12- 8) lost 5-0 to Durant in a title game postponed a day due to heavy rains.
Durant (19-8) came out swinging, scoring an early run and never backing down at home on April 18, scoring 3 more in the third before the weather struck. Durant tacked on 1 more run when the game continued the next day to defeat the Wildcats for the third time this season and sink Wharton’s chance at a District title. The rally never came.
That wasn’t the case, however, during the District semifinal against the Bloomingdale Bulls (17-7) on April 17. Like Durant, the Bulls led early with 2 runs in the first inning. Wharton fought back with a run in the second, but couldn’t get any offense going until the sixth inning, scoring 2 runs to take the lead and drop the Bulls. Solid pitching by sophomore Mak Dooley (11-7 on the year, with a 2.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 129 IP, plus a .379 BA and a team-best 7 2Bs & 12 RBIs) kept the Bulls at bay, as she chalked up 8 strikeouts in 7 innings. Juniors Nicole Stannard (team-leading .447 BA) and Nicole Keesee (.328, 10 RBIs) had 2 hits and an RBI apiece.
Other top hitters for the ‘Cats this year include soph Erica Matich (.356, with a team-leading 3 HRs, plus 9 RBIs), junior Nicole Dixon (.333, 10 RBIs) and soph Meagan Bell (.298, with 9 RBIs & a team-leading 15 runs scored).
Wildcats head coach Ashlee Cappucci also could not be reached for comment before we went to press.
The statistics we cite also are from Maxpreps.com, so we can’t vouch for them being 100-percent accurate. Editor Gary Nager contributed to this feature.
Although we do not have specific stats for the Freedom or Wharton regional Quarterfinal games, Freedom moves on to play the Chamberlain Chiefs in the Class 7A Regional Semifinal on Tuesday, April 30 at 7 p.m. at Chamberlain. The Patriot girls will have a chance to avenge their District Title loss to the Chiefs and move on to the Regional Finals.
However, the Wharton Wildcat girls fell to the Palm Harbor University Hurricanes in the Class 8A Regional Quarterfinal, finishing the Wildcats’ season at 12-9.