CLERMONT — Records aren’t kept for such things, but it’s possible that on Wednesday night Canterbury may have produced the youngest softball team to ever win a state title.
For the record, Canterbury started one junior, three sophomores, three freshmen and two eighth-graders in their 3-1 victory over Jacksonville University Christian at Legends Way Ballfield in Clermont.
Then the youngsters cheered like crazy around their coach, Jody Moore, who held high the Class 2A state championship trophy — the fifth state title for Moore and Canterbury since 2011.
“Is this the youngest team I’ve had to win a state title?” Moore playfully asked, grinning and donning the 2017 state title ring, which was the last she won. “Oh yeah. No doubt about that.”
These Crusaders, however, were no less confident than any of the previous Canterbury state champs.
Did they get worried, for instance, after falling behind 1-0 in the top of the second inning?
“We always felt confident that we would come back because we feel so prepared,” said sophomore Maya Bickford, who scored the go-ahead run in the second inning after sprinting home on a passed ball. “We knew we could do it.”
As has been the case with all of Moore’s past teams, Canterbury (23-9) took advantage of almost every opportunity, which were hard to come by against University Christian (18-3) and pitcher Sophia Kardatzke, who Moore said was one the best the Crusaders faced in an extremely challenging schedule.
In the bottom of the second, in fact, Canterbury did not collect a hit, but scored its two runs on a walk, an error, a fielder’s choice, a hit batsman, a stolen base, a sacrifice bunt and a passed ball.
“I have to give credit to my hitters,” Moore said. “They hung in there and kept trying to find ways to get to a very tough pitcher (but still only collected three total hits).”
Pn the Crusaders’ mound, junior starter Mackenzie Bergstrom was nearly lights out, throwing 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run on one hit while striking out eight. Eighth-grader Morgen Talley came in to finish the game.
Using two pitchers was also part of Moore’s master plan, which has been the case on numerous occasions since she started coaching Canterbury in 2008.
“If I have two pitchers I like to throw both to give the other team something different to look at,” Moore said. “It’s nice to have two great pitchers.”
Overall, Moore said she was most happy that the girls could see the benefit of all their hard work.
“It’s great to know that everything I put in for these girls paid off because now they can see the result,” Moore said. “We work extremely hard. Our practices are very tough. It’s great to see these girls live this experience and feel what this feels like. It’s such a great feeling.”
Legends Way Ball Fields, Clermont
Class 2A final: Canterbury 3, Jacksonville University Christian 1
Class 3A semifinal: Holy Names 11, Miami Westminster Christian 4
Class 3A: Holy Names vs. Windermere Prep, 7 p.m. Thursday
Class 4A: Hernando vs. Plantation American Heritage, noon Thursday
Class 5A: Land O’ Lakes vs. Pace, 2 p.m. Thursday
Class 6A: Mitchell vs. Doral Academy, 11:15 a.m. Friday