ORLANDO – The top-ranked, at one point, Oakleaf High softball team took two hits on that ranking with a 2-1 loss on February 28 to district foe Atlantic Coast and a 4-0 loss on March 4 to West …
ORLANDO – The top-ranked, at one point, Oakleaf High softball team took two hits on that ranking with a 2-1 loss on February 28 to district foe Atlantic Coast and a 4-0 loss on March 4 to West Orange, also a once top-ranked team in Florida.
Oakleaf defeated Atlantic Coast 4-1 in last year’s region 1-8A semifinal before losing 6-4 in the 8A state semifinal to Strawberry Crest. West Orange is the defending 9A champions.
But, like the Final Four calibre team of last year has always done, the Lady Knights regrouped, changed the batting lineup and fired on all cylinders in a series of slayings to Bartram Trail, 8-2 on March 8, defending 9A champions Lake Howell, 14-0 on March 11, and Hagerty, 6-0 also on March 11.
“We lost 11 games two years ago and went to the playoffs,” said Oakleaf High coach Christina Thompson. “The season is a marathon not a sprint. We’ve taken our lumps before, but we never hang out heads. The tough schedule is a learning tool.”
Oakleaf improves to 8-2 with the flurry of batting fir flying from all parts and heads to more tough games with 2A defending champions Aucilla Christian on March 15, 8A-Lawton Chiles on March 25, both in Tallahassee, before returning home to face Fletcher on March 29 and First Coast on March 31.
“Every year, we make the schedule as tough as any,” said Thompson. “The only difference this year is we are doing a little more traveling to play the best we can.”
Updated on Wed., March 1, Maxpreps’ Xcellent 25 Writer’s Poll had West Orange at third in the nation behind two teams from California; Los Alamitos and Mission Viejo with Oakleaf at 13th. Oakleaf was cited as 13th nationally in the Preseason 2017 poll published February 21.
Against West Orange, senior pitcher Kelsey Sweatt had just three strikeouts while the Oakleaf bats were restricted to just three hits; two from Rebecca Koskey and one from Angela Agurkis.
West Orange catcher Julia Sniffen hit for a first inning grand slam homer after Sweatt walked three batters. West Orange pitcher Lauren Mathis stymied the Knights’ batting lineup with 11 strikeouts on the day.
Against Atlantic Coast, a district 2-8A opponent, Stingrays pitcher Taylor Bauman executed five strikeouts while allowing four runs and the solo run to get the game win. Sweatt struck out 12 for Oakleaf.
Oakleaf opening batting order; Alex Acevedo, Mika Garcia and Baylee Goddard opened with two grounders and a strikeout to Bauman as the game looked to become a pitcher’s duel.
In their initial at-bat, a walk and a single by Bauman put two Stingrays on base; first and third, before an error and a passed ball scores two runs for Atlantic Coast before Sweatt struck out the final two batters.
Oakleaf would try to answer with singles from Koskey and Agurkis, but Bauman struck out the next three Knights’ batters.
From there, both pitchers seemed to find their zones before, in the fourth inning, Koskey, who reached on a fielder’s choice grounder with Goddard on base, moved to third on a passed ball then scored off a passed ball to score the game 2-1.
Neither team could generate a scoring threat to the end of the game with Atlantic Coast reaching base with two errors and Oakleaf getting a tying run on base off a single to Madison Mifsud in the seventh, but grounding the game out.
Against Bartram Trail, Angela Agurkis got the hot bat with four runs batted in to push the Knights’ scoring agenda with teammate Mike Garcia hitting for three runs.
With Madi Davis on the mound, Oakleaf controlled the Lady Bears to a walk in the first two innings as the Knights blasted to a quick 7-0 lead.
In the first inning, two flyouts; Garcia and Madison Mifsud were followed by a thunderous double by Rebecca Koskey and singles from Baylee Goddard and Agurkis got Koskey across homeplate for the first run of the game. The effort offered just the solo score as Alex Acevedo grounded out, but the tone was set that Oakleaf was coming with heavy artillery.
After stellar defense in the field and a wicked throw-out of a steal attempt by catch Haley Willis, Oakleaf got right back to offense in the second inning with a single from Willis and a single that turned into a three-base hit to Destiny Pacetti scored Willis. Tracey Ferguson would gun a double to deep centerfield with Garcia hoisting her own two-bagger as Oakleaf ramped the score to 4-0.
Another Mifsud single and a base to Goddard for getting hit by a pitch would set up an Agurkis two run double for the 7-0 score.
From there, both teams throttled back to finish the game at 8-2.
Against Lake Howell, Oakleaf showed little respect for the title of defending champions with Garcia launching the lumber for three runs batted in as the Knights exploded for six and eight runs in the second and third innings to put Lake Howell in deep distress quickly.
Hitting doubles were Alex Acevedo, Destiny Pacetti, Angela Agurkis with Garcia hitting two doubles.
Davis and Cambria Arturo handling the five innings of pitching for Oakleaf with just one hit to Lake Howell.
Against Hagerty, senior Kelsey Sweatt manned the mound and pitched a two-hit shutout with three strikeouts.
Agurkis blasted a homer for the Knights with Ferguson hitting two doubles and Agurkis also nailing a two-bagger.
Oakleaf scored five of the six needed runs in the final two innings to preserve the win with two singles; Rebecca Marks and Willis being followed by a Ferguson double for a 2-0 lead and Garcia hitting a sacrifice fly for run three.
In the seventh, Agurkis opened with a double, Acevedo single, Willis singled and a shortstop error on a Jenna Curtis grounder scored two runs. A Pacetti single scored the final run.