ST. PETERSBURG — Since starting its softball program five years ago, Admiral Farragut has struggled to put together a playoff-contending team.
"This has been a process," Blue Jackets coach Linda Derk said.
The transformation began last year with the arrival of Corynn Miner, a pitcher with speed. This year, the defense and hitting has come around.
That has helped Admiral Farragut reach new heights with a 7-1 record and No. 3 ranking in the Class 3A state softball poll.
On Thursday, the Blue Jackets beat rival St. Petersburg Catholic 2-0 to remain undefeated in Class 3A, District 8. Admiral Farragut can clinch the top seed in the district with a win against Shorecrest next week.
"This was a pretty big win for us," Derk said. "We had never beaten St. Petersburg Catholic before this season. Now, we've done it twice in the same year."
Miner, a sophomore, did her part by mowing down hitters with efficiency. She finished with nine strikeouts and allowed one hit. She was backed by a defense that made numerous plays.
"I think the difference this year is that we're more of a complete team," Miner said. "The defense backed me up and was great the whole game. That gave me a lot of confidence out there."
The flawless play in the field came despite a few changes in the lineup. Kyndal Olander made her first start at catcher in place of Alexa Smith, who was nursing a bruised hand.
"Alexa's hand was a little swollen," Derk said. "That's probably from catching Corynn every day."
In the third inning, the Blue Jackets got the runs they needed. Olander reached on an error, advanced on a single by Claudia Pizzarelli and scored on another error. Miner hit a double to bring home Pizzarelli.
Admiral Farragut had six hits, including two each by Olander and Pizzarelli. But the Blue Jackets missed some scoring chances, with two runners thrown out at home.
"We obviously have a pitcher," Derk said. "But there's a team here, too. And they're starting to gain a lot of confidence with each win."