DUNEDIN — Looking much like a team fully aware of the potential glory ahead while distancing itself from the ashes behind, Dunedin climbed the mountain Friday.
The Falcons have taken on all serious comers now, among the best Class 5A, District 12 softball has to offer, including their biggest threat.
That would be Boca Ciega. Include that bunch as another stop for the Dunedin express, much like Lakewood and Bradenton Southeast and others. Because when Dunedin defeated the Pirates 7-0, the Falcons secured their first district title since 1991.
The Falcons (16-7) will host Lennard in Wednesday’s region quarterfinals.
“When you think of Dunedin, softball usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind,” first-year Falcons coach Roy Silver said.
The first thing is baseball, the program that is a perennial playoff contender. But the 50th anniversary of Dunedin High is shaping up as a special one, especially when it comes to athletic programs ending postseason droughts. In February, Dunedin had its first two state wrestling champions in 37 years.
On Friday, it was the softball team’s turn.
The Falcons got things going in the first inning when Samantha Silver led off with a walk. Olivia Silver followed by reaching on an error that allowed both to score. Dunedin continued to stay aggressive at the plate and on the basepaths, scoring two runs in the second inning and adding a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
“It was big for us to get up early,” Roy Silver said. “Any time you can gain momentum and hold onto it, it’s huge.”
Aubrey Ehlers, a freshman, shut down the Pirates by staying ahead in the count and relying on an air-tight defense. She allowed just three hits and struck out four.
“I was just looking to throw strikes on my first pitch,” Ehlers said. “The defense played great behind me. We’ve improved so much as the season has gone on.”
Ehlers retired the final seven batters, including the two flyouts and a groundout in the seventh to end the game.
“Aubrey was tremendous,” Roy Silver said. “But so was everyone else. This (a district title) was unexpected. But the girls deserved it.”
6A-12: Osceola shut down by top seed
Osceola knew the kind of game it was going to get from top-seeded Lakewood Ranch. A tough one.
The Mustangs have an explosive offense. Their hitters showed off their power, hitting three home runs to beat the Warriors 9-1.
“Lakewood Ranch has a great team with a real powerful lineup,” Osceola coach Jodi Oberer said. “They’ve done this to us before so we knew what to expect.”
Osceola’s lone run came in the sixth when Jasmine Acevedo walked and came home on a double by Kara Oberer.
Kaitlyn Romaine pitched the first and sixth innings. Kaitlyn Newman pitched the other innings for the Warriors.
“It wasn’t the greatest offensive night for us,” Jodi Oberer said. “A couple of hits here and there by different girls in the lineup.”