KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Keystone Heights High softball graduated a handful of talented seniors in last year’s Final Four run for the Lady Indians, but the Indians opened 2019 with eight straight …
KEYSTONE HEIGHTS – Keystone Heights High softball graduated a handful of talented seniors in last year’s Final Four run for the Lady Indians, but the Indians opened 2019 with eight straight opening wins.
Against Santa Fe, with a sense of inexperience, but a hitting advantage of 10-5, the Lady Indians fell 6-1 to the district 5-4A rival despite strong pitching from sophomore Daelynn Eatman who put up nine strikeouts.
Keystone Heights, now 8-1, must regroup as they will be playing in the Oakleaf High Tournament of Champions featuring a field of Final Four level teams from around Florida. Santa Fe got the first run of the game and latched on to the momentum early in the game with two errors; one a collision between catcher Emma Rogel and third baseman Kinley Carlton, and two passed balls that scored the game 1-0.
Santa Fe took the momentum on to the defensive end of the game with a double play knocking the Lady Indians out of the batter’s box.
Santa Fe refired with a line drive to second base putting a runner on and misplayed third strike throw to first base putting the Lady Raiders up 2-0 and the Lady Indians seemingly reeling.
Keystone Heights took a deep breath and coach Jessica Marquart put her offense that has a handful of games in double figure scoring on base with a single from Savannah Channell followed by a fielder’s choice grounder from Kiley Channell to set up a scoring bunt from Isabelle Woodell to put the Lady Indians on the scoreboard.
A single from Madi Mitzel on a three balls, two strikes pitch and a bunt from Asia Givens, also on a 3-2 count, loaded the bases for Keystone Heights, but a pop up to shortstop got Mitzel tagged out en route to third base to end the inning.
Eatmon shut down the Santa Fe bats with a grounder and two flyballs to put the Lady Indians back in the dugout.
Disaster struck in the top of the fourth with Eatmon seemingly finding her spots with pitches, but four passed balls putting a third run in and also putting a new catcher; centerfielder Ashton Ludwig, in for the Lady Indians. Keystone Heights started getting the bat on the ball, but the flight pattern landed right at the Santa Fe defense as frustration built up with the inopportunite landing of strong hits.
In the top of the sixth, with Keystone Heights fans awaiting the runs’ surge for their Lady Indians, it was Santa Fe turning the tables with two strikeouts from Eatmon not enough to stop an in-the-park homer that put Sante Fe up 6-1.
Again, Keystone Heights put baserunners in play; Kiley Channell with a single and an error on a Mackenzie Lemaster grounder, but the Santa Fe defense locked in.
Eatmon shut down the Raiders bats in their next at bat to set up a thrilling finish, but a fully horizontal snag at shortstop got one out with Ludwig snared leaving first base for the double play.