What was once unimaginable will be a reality today when Shorecrest hosts district rival St. Petersburg Catholic in the Class 3A region semifinals.
At 17-3, the Chargers have the best record in school history and their first district title.
Now, they will try to advance to the region final for the first time. To do that, Shorecrest will have to beat the Barons for the third time this season.
"It'll be close, a tough game," first-year coach Mike Galinski said. "To me, St. Petersburg Catholic still is considered a heavyweight. We have to take them very seriously."
Shorecrest has made the playoffs three of the past four seasons but had won only one playoff game during that span. The bulk of the roster returned, led by a trio of senior starters, Jaque Galinski, Hannah Smith and Molly Webber.
"I thought we had a chance to be pretty good because our team looked better," Jaque Galinski said. "A lot of us played in the offseason with travel teams, which helped. So I really expected us to go far."
That didn't seem possible when the Chargers started 5-3, including a 4-0 loss to SPC. But then Shorecrest started winning - and kept it going.
The Chargers are on a school-record 12-game winning streak.
"The seniors have provided great leadership," Mike Galinski said. "But everyone has played a role. As a team, we don't have a lot of superstars that are carrying us."
The depth shows in the stats. Jaque leads in stolen bases (25) while Smith has a team-high seven home runs and Webber a team-best 34 RBIs.
But the key might be the battery of Raquel Galinski and Smith.
"Those two are the glue," Mike Galinski said. "I've put a lot of trust in them and I let them call their own pitches. That's something you hardly ever see."
Raquel has 98 strikeouts this season and an ERA of 2.63.
"I've been working so long with Hannah that she automatically knows what to call," Raquel said. "We're in so much in synch."
In any successful turnaround there comes a breakthrough, a game in which all the planning and working and dreaming come together. For Shorecrest, that came in a 1-0 victory against St. Petersburg Catholic in the regular season, marking the first time the Chargers had ever beaten their rival. Two weeks ago, Shorecrest did it again, beating the Barons 9-1 in the district final.
"I think the first time we beat them, it was a huge confidence builder for the whole team," Mike Galinski said. "The second time was more of a fluke, at least with the score. I expect this one to be a pretty good one and a heck of a lot closer."
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Durant (20-8) at Palm Harbor University (24-4), 4: This is a rematch from last year's region semifinal, which the Cougars won en route to the state title. The Hurricanes beat Durant in a tournament this season. PHU's offense has been strong, scoring a combined 65 runs in its past six games. The leaders for the Hurricanes have been Moriah Connolly and Logyn Lilley.
Canterbury (16-12) at Southwest Florida Christian (14-6), 5: This is the fourth straight year these teams have met in the playoffs, with the Crusaders winning the previous three. To keep that going Canterbury will need more production from its offense, which had just one hit and scored two runs in a victory over Sarasota Christian in last week's region quarterfinals.