Harmony reaches Klassic semifinals
Lily Mann beats out an infield hit for Harmony.
By Rick Pedone
Harmony won its Kissimmee Klassic softball tournament opener Thursday against Clearwater Countryside by hitting the long ball.
Aleshia Ocasio and Maddie Urquiola each homered twice in the Horns’ 7-1 win.
Friday, the Lady Horns played a little ‘small ball’, bunting, stealing and forcing mental errors by a befuddled Naples Barron Collier infield.
The result was a 5-0 Harmony win that boosted the Lady Horns into the tournament semifinal round Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Osceola County Softball Complex.
They will play Class 6A champion Lake City Columbia, an 11-1 winner against Cooper City. Defending 7A champion St. Thomas Aquinas plays 4A champion Gulliver Prep in the other semifinal.
The winners play for the Blue bracket tournament championship Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Ocasio won her second game in as many days, giving up just two hits and striking out four batters.
Harmony had 12 hits, but most never left the infield. Ocasio’s double was the only extra base hit. But, Brooke Harris and Urquiola each had two stolen bases and Lily Mann and pinch runner Jeleah Nunez combined for two more steals as the Horns had their way on the base paths.
Longhorns Coach Jeff Fiorelli said after Thursday’s victory that his team needed to keep the ball on the ground and make defenses throw his runners out.
Barron Collier didn’t have much success with that. The teams met three weeks ago at the Miami Slamfest, with Harmony winning 4-3 in eight innings. Friday’s game lacked similar drama as the Horns scored twice in the second, once in the forth and two more times in the fifth.
Outfielder Rebekah Batson went 3-for-3 and Mann, Ocasio and Harris each had two hits as the Horns improved to 19-1.
“We did a good job of getting the ball on the ground. We made a couple of lineup switches to change things around a little, and it worked out,” Fiorelli said. “We’ll see how well it works out from here. Columbia is good.”
St. Cloud, 13-6, rallied for two runs in the fifth inning to down Lake Brantley, 3-2, in the Gold bracket Thursday, but Friday the team came up one run short and lost by the same 3-2 score against Riverview Riverview. The Bulldogs play at 11 a.m. Saturday in the fifth-place bracket.
Osceola, 11-7, which staged a remarkable comeback in an 11-10 victory over Parkland Douglas in the consolation bracket Thursday, fell to Taravella Friday, 12-3. Osceola plays for 11th place in the Gold bracket at 3 p.m. Saturday.
On Thursday, Ocasio’s three-run homer to center in the third inning gave the Lady Horns a 4-0 lead over Countryside, and the University of Florida commit made that lead stand up by throwing a four-hitter through six innings, surrendering one run and striking out eight. Molly Baker pitched a scoreless seventh inning to wrap it up for the Horns.
Urquiola, the Harmony shortstop, drilled a solo homer to left center to put the Horns up 1-0 in the first inning. She added another solo shot in the sixth inning, and Ocasio followed immediately with her second home run.
Harris drove in the team’s other run in the fourth inning when her second double drove in Lily Mann, who walked.
It was an impressive performance for a Harmony squad that didn’t play for two weeks.
“We talked a little bit about that before the game,” Fiorelli said. “Normally when this happens, they are ready to get back out there and they have a lot of energy, like caged tigers, and fortunately that’s the way we played.”
The Horns had 11 hits total and could have put the game away earlier had they not had a runner thrown out at home in the second inning and then left the bases loaded in the third and fourth innings.
“We have to understand the situation. We had runners in scoring position and we hit it in the air a couple of times,” Fiorelli said. “We have to get the ball on the ground, especially on this hard surface. We need to use our speed, make them make a play.”
Harmony traveled to Gainesville Wednesday to take in the Florida State-Florida game at UF. Former Lady Longhorn Lauren Harris, Brooke’s sister, plays for Florida State.
“They didn’t know we were going until we got them together Wednesday. It was a lot of fun, and I thought it would help get them in the right frame of mind for this tournament,” Fiorelli said.
Ocasio said she enjoyed seeing the Gators play since she plans to be in the starting lineup at UF next season.
Meanwhile, she was satisfied with her two-homer effort Thursday in a game that was broadcast by the Brighthouse Sports Network.
“I wasn’t sure they were going out, especially the second one,” she said. “It’s fun to play on TV, that makes it a little special.”
Harmony will be honored at next Friday’s home game against West Orange by MaxPreps as that website’s Team of the Week, Fiorelli said. The team will be presented a plaque by an honor guard to mark the occasion, Fiorelli said.
St. Cloud’s Kayla Jensen and Cortney Wentzell had RBI hits to bring St. Cloud back from a 2-1 deficit against Lake Brantley Thursday. Paige Shantz walked and scored in the second inning, but she pulled a hamstring during the play and may be out for several games, Coach Ray Whobrey said.
“We’re not sure how long she’ll be out, but is serious,” he said.. Lindsay Markham struck out six and went the distance to pick up the win Thursday.
Whobrey said his team did not play well Friday against Riverview, falling behind 3-0 early. Jensen and Wentzell doubled with two outs in the seventh to pull the Dogs close.
Osceola did not fare so well in its Gold bracket opener Thursday as Tampa Plant broke open a scoreless game with two runs in the fifth inning and then it added four more in the sixth on its way to a 7-0 victory in another televised game.
But, Osceola made up for it immediately after the loss to Plant by rallying from a 7-0 deficit against Douglas.
Haisette Escudero had three hits and three RBIs, including the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh when she drove a shot to the fence that scored three runs. Osceola scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth and scored once in the sixth to tie the score at 9 before the Eagles scored once in the top of the seventh to regain the lead, 10-9.
“Sometimes you get lucky. A bloop is as good as a line drive,” Osceola Coach George Coffey said. “It was a nice comeback for our girls.
Four of the top five teams in the Miracle Sports all-class Florida state poll are at the Klassic.