Panthers douse early Blue Devil lead

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 4/24/19

ORANGE PARK – In a rematch of sorts, after Ridgeview High took a 5-1 district 4-6A win a few weeks ago, the Clay High Blue Devils softball team looked to be full of vengeful energy with three …

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Panthers douse early Blue Devil lead

Posted

ORANGE PARK – In a rematch of sorts, after Ridgeview High took a 5-1 district 4-6A win a few weeks ago, the Clay High Blue Devils softball team looked to be full of vengeful energy with three early runs in their Tuesday match at Ridgeview High.

“It was embarassing,” said a sullen Clay High coach Matt Lewis. “Four errors in one inning.”

Lewis’ dismay was with a 3-0 lead built off a Delaney Anfinson double in the first inning and a Kylee Stacy single that pushed in Sydney Davis after she had doubled, Ridgeview got back into the game with a series of field miscues by Clay’s defense after just two singles; one by Ashlyn Halford, one by Tatiana Ilias, put the Panthers up 4-3 in a quick heartbeat before winning 8-3.

The Ridgeview win puts the Panthers in the top spot for the upcoming district tournament. Ridgeview defeated Clay in the district final in 2018, but lost 2-1 in nine innings in the region semifinal to Clay as Clay advanced to the Class 6A Final Four. Clay lost in the state semifinal to Land O’ Lakes 5-0 after beating West Florida 5-1 for the region title.

Ridgeview showed off an aggressive hit and baserunning offense with coach Casey Thompson testing the corners of the Clay defense forcing hurry-up errors by the Blue Devils. Ridgeview got hitter Sarah Anderson to home plate after a single and a fielder’s choice grounder, but Stacy’s throw to home on a Raven Little grounder halted Anderson’s scoring attempt.

Ridgeview pitcher Brittany Michael kept the Clay bays quiet on the mound while Clay ace Morgan Crutcher left in the fifth to try and stymie the Panther aggressiveness. In the fifth, it was Panther rightfield Ilias who snagged a deep hit from Silvis that kept Stacy at second to prevent a Clay run. Ridgeview was energized by the defensive play and got a heads-up play by Alyssa Adams who struck out but took advantage of a passed ball to get to second base.

From there, Halford layed down a but in front of home plate that put two Panthers on base and Lewis on the mound ‘chatting’ with his defense.

“We are not going to win the big games without making those plays,” said Lewis.

Ridgeview would score three more runs with a Brooke Michael slice off Clay first baseman Sydney Lewis’ glove and a grounder from Ilias. In the sixth, Anderson would single and move to second on a Little grounder before a passed ball and a Brittany Michael smash to left field got the final 8-3 score with Clay getting Madison Alexander to second in the final inning before a flyout from Ali Sarman.

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