ST. PETERSBURG — Lexi Kilfoyl struck out eight and gave up just two hits as Academy at the Lakes beat host Canterbury 3-0 in the Class 2A, District 4 softball championship game Friday.
Kilfoyl allowed two singles but Canterbury was only able to get one runner to third base all game.
“She was locked in; she’s always locked in,” Academy at the Lakes coach Diane Stephenson said of Kifoyl. “Canterbury has a lot of good hitters but she is a competitor. Her mentality is to treat every hitter like they are trying to take something from her.”
Academy at the Lakes (15-7) took an early 1-0 lead after the first inning and that proved to be enough for Kilfoyl. Canterbury (18-8) was tough at the plate, but Kilfoyl came up with the big pitch each time to force harmless groundballs and strikeouts.
Later in the game as Canterbury hitters started to adjust, Kilfoyl used her changeup to keep them off balance and strike out five of the final 10 batters she faced.
"It's a pitch I like to use in the later innings when I feel like a team is starting to get into a rhythm," Kilfoyl said. "They were tough hitters. They fouled a lot of pitches."
With Kilfoyl and Canterbury starter Mackenzie Bergstrom matching each other pitch for pitch through the first four innings, the Wildcats were able to get a break in the fifth. Kilfoyl helped herself at the plate with a hard grounder that bounced off of Bergstrom's shoulder for an infield hit.
Bergstrom left a pitch a little high in the zone for the next batter, Devyne Davis, and Davis jumped on the pitch and sent it over the wall in left-center to extend the lead to 3-0.
"I hadn't seen too many strikes up until that point," Davis said. "So when I saw one I knew I had to take advantage."
Canterbury’s best scoring chance came in the third inning when Jocelyn Alonso was hit by a pitch with two outs. Alonso stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error, but Madison Fine grounded out to end the inning.
Morgen Talley got the Crusaders’ first hit, a single in the fourth inning, but Kilfoyl retired the final two batters. Sarah Young got an infield single in the sixth inning, then Kilfoyl retired Talley to end the inning.
"We know we have to eliminate any errors if we're going to win against this team," Canterbury coach Jody Moore said. "I thought we had good at-bats, which you need facing pitching of that caliber. Maybe we'll see them again."
Academy at the Lakes will host Sarasota Christian in the region semifinals Thursday and Canterbury will travel to Seacrest Country Day.