Ilias blast ignites Panther title repeat

OHS, SJCDS both win with homers; MHS loses thriller

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 5/8/19

GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A three run homer over the left field fence by Tatiana Ilias ignited an already excited Ridgeview High softball dugout who crushed Ponte Vedra High 7-1 to win their second …

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Ilias blast ignites Panther title repeat

OHS, SJCDS both win with homers; MHS loses thriller


GREEN COVE SPRINGS – A three run homer over the left field fence by Tatiana Ilias ignited an already excited Ridgeview High softball dugout who crushed Ponte Vedra High 7-1 to win their second consecutive district 4-6A title Thursday night at Clay High School. Ridgeview advanced with a 10-0 win over Orange Park with Ponte Vedra coming back to win 2-1 over Clay in the semifinal round.

“That was big,” said Ridgeview first year coach Casey Thompson. “Ponte Vedra came back to beat Clay in the semifinal and that were going to get something going against us if we didn’t put some runs on the scoreboard.”

Ridgeview (19-8) opens their region playoff schedule with Stanton (8-7) coming to Orange Park Wed., May 8. Stanton lost to Paxon in the district 3-6A final.

With a 3-0 lead from a first quarter rally led by a ripped double to centefield by Ashlyn Halford with Sarah Anderson and Brooke Michael on base, Ridgeview High pitcher Brittany Michael did all she could to keep the basepaths clear of Sharks with eight strikeouts.

“She is a great pitcher and leader by herself, but her defense behind is tough and sometimes I’ll tell her to just put it in the strike zone and trust the defense,” said Thompson. “We had some great field plays out there.”

As both teams locked down with the pitchers; Michael for Ridgeview and Michelle Holder for Ponte Vedra, who had four strikeouts, neither team could budge until the decisive fourth inning.

With Brittany Michael and Natalie Foret both walking, Iliana stepped into the batter’s box with an opportunity to put more runs on the board.

“I just closed my eyes and swung,” said Iliana. “It was the best hit I ever had.”

Iliana launched cleared the 240 foot centerfield fence with room to spare as the Panther dugout erupted.

Ponte Vedra did respond with a single and double off Michael in the ensuing inning, but a pair of strikeouts left the Sharks only as close as third base.

In the bottom of the fifth, Alyssa Adams sent a line drive to deep left field for a double then moved to third on a grounder from Halford.

On a nifty shortstop pickup by Ponte Vedra on a hard grounder from Brittany Michael, Adams got iced at third, but Michael outsprinted the throw. Adams alertly took the initiative to score the seventh Panther run for a 7-0 score.

With the Ridgeview dugout awaiting the final strikes from Michael, Ponte Vedra got two baserunners in place off walk, but could not get to home plate as Michael clamped down the final two batters in the sixth.

With two outs in the seventh and Ponte Vedra getting a run, the anticipation of the second title was delayed as the Sharks put two baserunners in place before Halford snared a blooper in centerfield to end the game.

“I was just hoping it would not just drop in front of me,” said Halford.

In other softball district action, Oakleaf won a 13-4 matchup with district 2-8A arch-rival Atlantic Coast while St. Johns Country Day School got a fifth inning two run homer from Brianna Enter to beat University Christian 3-2 in district 2-3A. Enter also had 13 strikeouts for St. Johns.

St. Johns (12-5) will host North Florida Christian (11-5) in their region semifinal on Thurs., May 9. North Florida Christian lost to Rocky Bayou (4-12) in the district 1-3A final. University Christian (15-4) will travel to Rocky Bayou.

Middleburg had district 3-7A defending champion Gainesville High on the ropes at 0-0 into the eighth inning before losing a 1-0 championship match. The Lady Broncos, under first year coach Ashley Houston, were last in the region playoffs in 2010.

Gainesville got a 13 strikeout effort from pitcher alyssa Humphrey, but the Bronco defense kept the Hurricanes from scoring on pitcher Haleigh Campbell who faced off for seven innings with two strikeouts. Campbell’s defense nailed two Hurricane runners at home plate; once in the first, the second in the third inning to keep the game dicey. Campbell was relieved in the eighth inning by Crickmore who gave up a double, a contested walk and a passed ball that put the lone run across home plate.

Middleburg awaits a district 4-7A final between Creekside (21-3) and Bartram Trail (21-4) that was pushed to Mon., May 6 due to weather.

Oakleaf got homers from Baylee Goddard, Aspen Windesheim and Jaeda McFarland in the rout of the Stingrays with senior pitcher Madisyn Davis strikeout out nine and relief hurler Cambria Arturo whiffing four to stifle the Atlantic Coast bats. Goddard also had a double to finish with three runs batted in for Oakleaf.

Tied 1-1 after one inning, Oakleaf benefited from four walks and a sacrifice fly from Katie Kistler to take a 2-1 lead in the second inning.

In the fourth, Kistler pushed across Jazmine Lamug, who walked, on a grounder that was misplayed on the throw to first base.

In the fifth, Goddard and Aspensheim bookended homers around a walk to Jacie Brookshire to push the score to 6-1. McFarland’s homer came in the sixth with Kistler and J.J. Serrano on base to push the score to 10-4.

Singles to Serrano. Lamug and a walk to Kistler loaded the bases for Goddard who doubled in two runs to 13-4.

Oakleaf will host district 1-8A runnerup Tallahassee Lincoln on Wed., May 8. Atlantic Coast travels to Tallahassee Chiles.


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