RIVERVIEW — Those were smiles and laughs coming from Riverview players as they walked off the field a final time.
The Sharks were simply overmatched in an 11-3 loss to Melbourne Eau Gallie on Tuesday night in a Class 6A region final with a berth to the state final four on the line.
The Commodores opened an offensive onslaught with 16 hits, including a pair of home runs (that makes it 27 on the season) and five doubles not to mention the 10 runners left on base — seven in scoring position.
So why the upbeat attitude from the Sharks?
Riverview graduates just three seniors, players coach Angela Slater called key role players. But with the majority of the Sharks expected to return, many, including Slater, believe Riverview (18-11) did more than anticipated.
"A lot of folks would say I got a whole lot of mileage out of that bunch," Slater said. "We're young. We got a little taste of some good playing."
The critical blow came in the fourth inning just after Riverview had pieced together a three-run third to take a 3-2 lead off key hits by sisters Brianna and Bianka Bell.
"I think once we scored we just kind of ticked them off," Slater said. "We knew they could hit from the top of the order to the bottom. …We made a few mistakes that let them start to smell blood."
The Sharks committed three costly errors in the fourth, an inning that saw 13 Eau Gallie (24-2) batters come to the plate for seven runs (two earned and four with two outs) for a 9-3 lead.
Riverview got just four hits, stymied by Eau Gallie ace Lexi Carroll and a solid defense. She went 4-for-5, just a triple shy of hitting for the cycle with a pair of RBIs, while pitching a complete game with just two strikeouts.
Izzy Gould can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3458.