VERO BEACH — A gutsy, gritty effort by Academy of the Holy Names needed one more rally in Wednesday's late Class 4A semifinal, but the Jaguars fell short in the end.
AHN put together a three-run rally to tie it in the fifth inning but left the tying run stranded on third in the seventh, falling 6-5 to West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy (27-2) at Historic Dodgertown.
Trailing 6-4 entering the seventh, Holy Names (15-8) scored a run in the top of the seventh on Alexis Miniet's long RBI double to center, cutting the deficit to 6-5. Chloe Boos' groundout moved Miniet over to third base with just one out.
Samantha Miller, however, fouled out right up against the backstop to the catcher, then Brittany Bramwell popped out to second base to end the school's historic run to its first state finals appearance.
"This team has battled all year long. We faced a lot of adversity on and off the field," said Holy Names coach Kevin Vargas. "This group of girls … I couldn't be prouder of them.
"To go out fighting as we did is a testament to our girls. It's why we are where we are. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the other team."
Jaguars starting pitcher Gelmi Pasquier epitomized that fight and determination. She breezed through the first nine ThunderWolves batters she faced, getting eight groundouts.
After a leadoff single to open Oxbridge's bottom of the fourth, then a flyout, Pasquier was struck in the right shoulder by a vicious liner off the bat of Caridad Estes. Pasquier left for five batters, came back in to face the inning's ninth hitter but ended the frame trailing 4-1.
"I was providing groundballs and my defense was making good plays to first base," said Pasquier, a sophomore.
Added Vargas: "(Gelmi's) a bulldog on the mound."
Miniet had a two-run single in the top of the fifth as a 4-1 deficit was trimmed to 4-3. Boos followed with a double to left-center to knot the game at 4-4.
Miniet said she and her teammates were dead set on rallying.
"That's what we said at the beginning of the game. It didn't matter how many runs they score, we were coming back, no matter what. One pitch at a time, one inning at a time. You follow everyone's hit and see what happens," Miniet said.
Katie Hale gave the Jaguars a 1-0 lead in the second when she slashed a single to leftfield to score Miller.