VERO BEACH — Bloomingdale will have to remember the way back to the Treasure Coast.
The Bulls plated two runs in the top of the first inning, and junior ace Lace Smith overpowered Vero Beach in a 2-1 Class 8A region final victory that sends Bloomingdale back to Vero Beach on Wednesday for state.
“It wasn’t her best game today for sure, but she moved the ball around enough. Her ball may have been a little more flat than usual,” first-year coach Mandy Schuerman said of Smith.
Smith (22-2) didn’t appear to be off her game. Her riseball resulted in the first 15 outs being recorded via strikeout or balls put in the air. She finished with 12 strikeouts and allowed just three base hits, two of them doubles.
“I wasn’t on like I usually am. I hope I come back here and pitch better in the states. The next 48 hours are going to be a little nervous,” said Smith, whose team faces Cypress Bay at Historic Dodgertown on Wednesday.
Bloomingdale (25-3) leadoff hitter Lizzie Jackson, who had three hits and reached base all four at-bats, opened with a single, swiped second base and scored on a throwing error on Taylor Engman’s sacrifice bunt for a 1-0 lead.
Jenna Beswick drove in Engman four batters later on a long fly to centerfield for all the runs Bloomingdale (25-3) would score.
“Their pitcher worked the ball in and out really well, but I was able to get the bat on them and get a couple of good bunts,” said Jackson, a junior who had two bunt singles and reached on a throwing error by Vero Beach pitcher Autumn Green.
Added Schuerman: “It’s always good to a have a nice start like that. We left a lot of base runners stranded, but that first inning was key for us.”
Up 2-1, Bloomingdale looked to add some insurance by loading the bases in the seventh on a single to leftfield and a pair of bunt hits. A flyout, popout and grounder to second base, however, kept the Indians (15-10) alive.
Green opened the final inning with a single, but following a strikeout, pinch runner Brianna James was caught stealing by catcher Sammie Selden. Following a pinch-hit double to deep left, Smith induced a weak grounder to end the game with the tying run on second.
“That throw (by Selden on the attempted steal) was huge. That’s a senior making the play when it counts,” Schuerman said.
3A: CDS makes history
ODESSA — Having won its first playoff game 11 days ago, this season has already been the most successful in Carrollwood Day history.
Now the Patriots can add another milestone: a region championship.
In a back-and-forth game where Carrollwood Day trailed by three runs in the fourth inning, the Patriots rallied for a 12-7 victory over Cornerstone Charter Academy at Fest Field to advance to the Class 3A state final four, the first CDS athletic team to achieve the feat.
“When (CDS athletic director) Baker (Mabry) asked me to be the head coach two years ago — or a year ago now, this is my second year — I said that the only way I would do it is if we could build a dynasty,” CDS coach Chuck Fest said. “I want CDS to be the premier private school softball program in the county, and we’re capable of doing it. We expect to be there this year and next year and the year after that.”
The Patriots (16-7) were behind 7-5 in the bottom of the fifth before tying the score. Savannah Bennett led off the inning with a single. Amanda Rose singled to centerfield, and both scored when Rose’s base hit bounced under the centerfielder’s glove and rolled all the way to the fence.
Carrollwood Day scored five runs in the sixth to break the game open. Bennett drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single for an 8-7 Patriots lead.
“Before the game while the national anthem was playing, I like to sit there and close my eyes and visualize what I want to do during the game,” Bennett said. “I always visualize myself hitting a gap hit. So that’s what I tried to do right before that hit.”
Emalee Jansen scored on a wild pitch, and Bennett crossed the plate on an error later in the inning. Christina Polanco’s two-RBI single gave the Patriots a 12-7 advantage.
Rose, who entered for starting pitcher Jansen with two on and two out in the sixth and got a strikeout to end the threat, worked a 1-2-3 seventh to finish off the historic win.
“The character of this team really showed today,” Fest said.
Bryan Burns, Times correspondent
At Historic Dodgertown, Vero Beach
8A: Bloomingdale vs. Cypress Bay
6A: Chamberlain vs. Lake Region
2A: Canterbury vs. Sarasota Christian
3A: Carrollwood Day vs. Moore Haven