LAND O’LAKES ― Sunlake coach Nelson Garcia was the last one to emerge from the dugout on Friday. Among the items he carried out was the Class 7A, District 10 trophy.
“I’m going to look at the this one for a while this weekend,” Garcia said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
The Seahawks have built a consistent title contender. Trouble was, they did not have any titles to show for it. Sunlake made the playoffs the last two seasons as a runnerup after losing to Mitchell in the district final.
Once again, the Seahawks faced their arch-rival in the championship game. This time, they ended years of frustration with a 5-3 win for their first district title.
“I’m numb right now,” Garcia said. “The whole group has worked so hard, in practices and games, to have this moment.”
It has been a remarkable season for Sunlake, which heads into the postseason on a 20-game win streak. The Seahawks (22-2) have not lost to an area opponent and won the Eastern Division of the Sunshine Athletic Conference for the first time this season.
They continued their momentum by winning the one that really counted Friday.
Mitchell (19-7) took the lead in the top of the first when Kaylee Barber belted a two-run homer. Sunlake spent the rest of the game taking back control.
Kendra Falby, Shea Forgas and Bella Sanchez all had multiple hits. But Paige Maseda’s lone hit, a three-run single in the fifth inning, was the biggest of all.
The defense also came through by turning in two double plays.
This has been a memorable year for the Garcia household. Last month, Garcia’s wife, Denise, was named the state’s girls weightlifting coach of the year after leading Sunlake to its first state team championship.
Denise also is an assistant with the softball team.
“We’ll get to keep this trophy at home until Monday when we have to bring it back to school,” Nelson said. “I’ll probably put it on a counter next to all my wife’s trophies. It will be nice to look at this one for a few days.”