ST. PETERSBURG — Three years ago, a bunch of overachieving youngsters were filled with elation upon making their first state tournament in school history.
Now after three disappointing endings to the season, Canterbury is ready to complete the journey with a state title.
The Crusaders took the first step Tuesday in overwhelming fashion with a 16-0 rout of Carrollwood Day in the Class A-9 semifinals.
“We have more experience and we’re more prepared,” said senior catcher Krissy Longstreet, who went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a triple, a home run and five RBIs. “Playing in those state playoffs and playing against the competition we played against this year (which included 12 public schools) has given us the confidence to complete our goal this year. Now it’s all about going and taking care of business.”
The first run scored by Sarah Fleming on a bunt, two stolen bases and a single by Jennifer Crosthwaite was enough for Canterbury starter Emily Winesett, as the junior right-hander allowed just one walk over five scoreless innings of a mercy-ruled game. The Crusaders pounded out 24 hits on the way to their 16th victory of the season.
Canterbury will play host Thursday to Academy at the Lakes, a 10-0 winner over Cambridge. The Wildcats were led by Lauren Evans, who went 4-for-4 with a double and three RBIs, and Kallie Shirling, who went 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI.
“We’re playing a lot better and with more confidence now that we’ve adjusted our lineup,” said Shirling, the team’s lone senior. “We feel like we’re playing the best we have all season.”