OAKLEAF– A five-run seventh inning; with homers from Jaeda McFarland and Jaycie Brookshire, boosted the Oakleaf High softball offense to wisk to an 8-0 win over Gainesville High in the championship game of the Tournament of Champions tournament hosted by Oakleaf over the weekend.
On Friday, the Oakleaf Knights dispensed with the Trinity Christian Conquerors 11-3 to get themselves into the champions game Saturday evening. Gainesville beat Keystone Heights and Lake Wales High to advance to the final.
Against Gainesville, Oakleaf took no time at all to get out ahead 2-0 on the first at bat. In the bottom of the second, they rallied with a five run inning for a 7-0 lead.
“They pick and choose their moments and it’s like wildfire when one of them catches on, they all catch on” said Knights Head Coach Christina Thompson. “I never know when it’s going to be, but they always have one inning where they catch on like a house on fire.”
The Knights would add one more in the bottom of the third to blank the Hurricanes 8-0, taking the champions round and the 2019 Tournament of Champions title.
“Last year, Lakewood ranch took it to us,” said Thompson. “We went extra innings last year when they got us. We really wanted to take it home this year. We knew it was going to be tough. Seven of the eight teams were Final Four teams last year.”
Against Gainesville, inn the bottom of the first, with a 1-2 count Jaeda McFarland singled to right field getting her safely on base. Right after her, Kaylee Lambrecht blasted a shot to deep right field that scored McFarland. After the second out with two runners on, Baylee Goddard followed suite with a single to right that scored Lambrecht, putting Oakleaf in the driver’s seat quickly, 2-0.
On the mound again was Cambria Arturo who led her team through the shutout. Arturo only surrendered two hits all game.
“She absolutely did everything we asked her to do,” said Thompson. “Sometimes pitchers seem to paint too much. She really zoned in tonight with only two walks back-to-back, then reined it back in. She threw into outs, going high and low when we needed it. She pitched very well tonight. It’s misunderstood when there’s not a lot of K’s on the board, but she limited their hits and more importantly shut them out.”
After three up, three out by Gainesville, it was a series of Gainesville errors that the Knights capitalized on as Caitlynne Lamug and designated player Madi Davis were sitting on first and second. After a pop out, McFarland drove the ball to the fence in right field and appeared to have a 2 RBI triple until Gainesville could not handle the cutoff and overthrew third base. McFarland was sent home for an in the park home run putting the Knights up 5-0.
With only one out, Lambrecht walked and was followed by Jaycie Brookshire who belted a shot to deep left field, clearing the fence by at least 15 feet for an RBI home run, 7-0.
Oakleaf added the capstone run in the bottom of the third when Caitlynne Lamug who was walked in four pitches, was brought around to second after a Mati Davis single, then a Jadrianna Serrano single to score Lamug, 8-0.
In the top of the fourth, Gainesville had their biggest threat in progress with one out, bases loaded. A deep fly ball to center field and fast thinking of Faith Hauhe who turned twice to find the ball, reach up and got the out, then catching the runner who left base thinking the ball was dropping, getting a double play that closed the inning with the Hurricanes still looking out of a 8-0 hole.
“I’m thinking oh man, but the minute that glove came up, I don’t think anybody knew, but she came up with it, then made the double play. That was spectacular. Just a heck of a play,” said Thompson.