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Cardiac Cougars PREVAIL

Turns out, the Cardiac Cougars were as resilient as they were riveting.

Hit with one deluge after another — in the form of rain, runs or raw grief — Durant's softball team kept standing. And winning.

Shortly after the last downpour arrived at the National Training Center in Clermont, the Cougars (24-4) were Class 8A state champions.

By now, the surreal final stretch of their season has been well-chronicled. On the early-April night in which they honored beloved team mom Antionette "Momma C" Cuellar, mired in the final stages of a lengthy cancer battle, the Cougars embarked on a season-ending 10-game win streak. In four of their last six games, they rallied from early deficits, including an 11-0 deficit against Alonso in the District 7 final.

In Monday night's state title contest against Miami Palmetto, they spotted the Panthers a two-run first-inning lead before storming back for an 8-2 triumph interrupted by two rain delays. It came 10 days after Cuellar's death.

"That moment of silence at the end was for Momma C," said sophomore Brooke Freeman, who homered in the title game. "We all wanted to win the state title. But we wanted to win it for her, too."

Joey Knight, Times staff writer

Durant High softball team

No. Name Pos. Gr.

2 Shannon Bell CF, OF So.

3Alyssa Colding C, 1B Jr.

4Mason Hubbard SS, 3B So.

6Melissa Mertely OF, UTIL Sr.

8Paige Davis P, 1B Jr.

10Olivia Cuellar 2B, SS Sr.

11Kelli Tidwell SS, 1B So.

12Mandy Morris LF, RF So.

13Nikki Giovenco LF, OF Sr.

14Brooke Freeman SS, P So.

15Maddie Taylor RF, 3B So.

16Cassidy Sorrells RF, LF So.

18Caylin Delones 2B, UTIL Fr.

19Jessie Atchison LF, OF Jr.

20Josey Hampton C, 1B Fr.

23Kennedy Dean 3B, 1B Jr.

24Jordan Lafave RF, CF Sr.

33Payton Lewis 2B, C So.

Road to the championship

District Tournament

Durant 2, Wharton 1

Durant 15, Alonso 13

Regional quarterfinal

Durant 9, East Lake 7

Regional semifinal

Durant 6, Palm Harbor University 5

Regional final

Durant 2, Orlando Timber Creek 0

State semifinal

Durant 7, Jacksonville Mandarin 2

State championship

Durant 8, Miami Palmetto 2

Durant High Softball Team

No. Name Pos. Gr.

2 Shannon Bell CF, OF So.

3 Alyssa Colding C, 1B Jr.

4 Mason Hubbard SS, 3B So.

6 Melissa Mertely OF, UTIL Sr.

8 Paige Davis P, 1B Jr.

10 Olivia Cuellar 2B, SS Sr.

11 Kelli Tidwell SS, 1B So.

12 Mandy Morris LF, RF So.

13 Nikki Giovenco LF, OF Sr.

14 Brooke Freeman SS, P So.

15 Maddie Taylor RF, 3B So.

16 Cassidy Sorrells RF, LF So.

18 Caylin Delones 2B, UTIL Fr.

19 Jessie Atchison LF, OF Jr.

20 Josey Hampton C, 1B Fr.

23 Kennedy Dean 3B, 1B Jr.

24 Jordan Lafave RF, CF Sr.

33 Payton Lewis 2B, C So.

Road to the championship

District Tournament

Durant 2, Wharton 1

Durant 15, Alonso 13

Regional quarterfinal

Durant 9, East Lake 7

Regional semifinal

Durant 6, Palm Harbor University 5

Regional final

Durant 2, Orlando Timber Creek 0

State semifinal

Durant 7, Jacksonville Mandarin 2

State championship

Durant 8, Miami Palmetto 2

Cardiac Cougars PREVAIL 05/19/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 19, 2012 4:31am]
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