ST. PETERSBURG — After securing its first playoff appearance in the Class 5A, District 8 semifinals, Lakewood was looking for more in the championship game against Bradenton Bayshore.
The Spartans (15-11) were confident, especially after rallying to beat the Bruins last month to secure the top seed in the district. Lakewood played well in the final but had its momentum halted in the sixth inning after a rain delay postponed Thursday’s game. It didn’t take long for Bayshore (20-4) to capitalize Friday, scoring three runs in the sixth for a 3-0 victory.
“It was tough considering how well we were playing the night before,” Spartans coach Edie Shankle said.
Through five innings Thursday night, Lakewood pitcher Mariah Watts was mowing down batters with ease. The Wisconsin recruit recorded 10 strikeouts and had given up just one hit at that point.
Then the heavy rain started, making it impossible for Watts to grip the ball or even see home plate. In the sixth inning, Watts walked one batter and allowed a hit before the game was called.
When play resumed Friday morning, Watts had to work out of a jam, especially after loading the bases. With two outs, she delivered a pitch that Susan Blue smacked for what turned out to be the winning, bases-clearing double.
“It was unfortunate because Mariah had to go out there (Thursday) when the rain started coming down,” Shankle said. “She had a hard time seeing and gripping the ball. They finally postponed it, but by then they already had two runners on base.”
Watts allowed three hits and recorded 13 strikeouts. She also did well at the plate with a single and a double.
“We’re disappointed to lose because we’ve had such a good season,” Shankle said. “The good thing, though, is we’re not done playing yet.”