TAMPA — Academy at the Lakes shrugged off an extra weekend of rest, an early three-run deficit and one bitter memory from last spring to make history Monday at Live Oak Park.
The Wildcats exploded with a five-run fourth inning to earn their first trip to state with a 9-4 win over Quincy Munroe in the Class 2A region final.
AATL (11-5) avenged last year’s 3-1 region final loss to the Bobcats (10-9) to qualify for Friday’s final-four matchup with Canterbury.
“It’s unreal,” senior Andrea Mauger said.
Six days after falling behind early before rallying with a walkoff single in the region semifinals, AATL quickly stumbled again. Two Wildcat errors helped Munroe score three in the first inning of the matinee, which was scheduled for Friday but pushed to Monday because of rain.
“We needed a wakeup call,” said coach Jerry English, who also took Land O’Lakes to the final four in 1995.
AATL finally responded to the alarm in the third.
Senior Sydney Boynton blasted a rocket into rightfield that hit the defender’s glove and dropped to the ground, scoring Maria Aumaitre and USF commit Lauren Evans while cutting the deficit to 3-2.
“After that, everyone got so pumped up,” Boynton said.
Including herself. AATL’s ace settled down after the first, allowing only one run the rest of the game while striking out eight.
The Wildcats’ bats blew the game open in the fourth. After two errors and a hit batter loaded the bases with no outs, Skyler Boynton blasted a two-run double to the gap in leftfield that gave AATL its first lead of the game.
“It just takes that one hit to get us all going and pumped up,” Skyler Boynton said.
Catherine Smith followed with an RBI, and Skyler’s older sister blasted a double to deep leftfield that scored two more. Sydney Boynton also brought in a run on a sacrifice fly in the sixth, and Evans added an RBI double.
Evans was intentionally walked in her first three at-bats but got the last laugh.
As her team posed for celebratory pictures after the final out, she asked them to hold up four fingers in honor of her team’s first trip to the final four.
At Vero Beach Sports Village
2A: Canterbury vs. Academy at the Lakes, 10:30 a.m. Friday
Matt Baker can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @MattHomeTeam.