TAMPA — Caroline Kimbler had just one at-bat all season before Academy of the Holy Names’ Class 4A, District 10 softball semifinal against Sarasota Booker. But when she stepped up in the bottom of the fifth inning Tuesday, the junior proved a lack of experience at the plate didn’t mean a thing.
Kimbler hit a walk-off home run to seal the Jaguars’ spot in the tournament final, leading AHN to a 10-0 win in five innings. Holy Names faces Tampa Catholic today for the district championship.
“We’ve hit the ball very well at Berkeley this year,” AHN coach Don Barron said, citing the Jaguars’ 23-5 win at Berkeley Prep on April 1.
The Jaguars had 10 hits while starting AHN pitcher Taylor Shaw (8-2) gave up just one.
In the second semifinal game, however, Tampa Catholic had an even better night at the plate, recording 19 hits, beating host Berkeley Prep 13-3.
The Crusaders scored 12 of their 13 runs in the first inning, including home runs from Emily Small and Cristina Clauberg. Jennifer Rogers started on the mound for Tampa Catholic and gave up just five hits while recording her 10th win of the season.
Berkeley Prep’s Kristin Hoover, a UC Berkeley commit, hit her 16th home run of the season against the Crusaders.
Today’s final will be a rematch of last year’s district championship, which the Jaguars won 12-9. Crusaders coach Mark Braddy knows his team will be challenged by AHN as it pursues its fourth straight district title.
But it’s also a matchup he can’t wait to see unfold.
“That rivalry just makes for a really good game,” he said. “And that’s what I’m expecting.”