Harmony softball edged, 1-0, for 7A title
By Rick Pedone
The same matchup, and, unfortunately, the same result happened Saturday at the Class 7A state softball tournament at Vero Beach.
Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas defended its state title by edging Harmony, 1-0. Last year, Aquinas downed the Lady Longhorns, 1-0, in nine innings in the semifinals.
Sophomore Briana Stella walked to lead off the bottom of the first inning and scored the only run the Raiders needed on Rachel Collins’ two-out single off Longhorns stater LeLe Ocasio.
Raiders pitcher Meghan King made the slim lead stand up. Except for a leadoff single by Lily Mann, King, a lefty, was untouchable in the title game, striking out 12.
“We thought the first inning would be our inning,” Harmony Coach Jeff Fiorelli said. “I thought we would be able to scratch out a couple of runs after they scored, but the thing about her is that she gets stronger the longer the game goes. It’s hard when you are facing a lefty. We weren’t getting our wrists through, the way we talked about before the game. The curve comes in reversed, and even though we knew what to expect, it’s very difficult to adjust to.”
Ocasio was just as impressive, shutting down the hard-hitting Raiders lineup after the first inning and striking out nine. Neither pitcher walked a batter.
“LeLe threw the way she always does in big games, outstanding,” Fiorelli said. “We just didn’t give her any support for the second time.”
Ocasio said that she believed Harmony could come back after Aquinas took the lead early in the game.’
“But, she’s (King) a good pitcher. We knew it would be tough,” Ocasio said.
Aquinas, which won its fourth state title, finished 30-2, while the Longhorns were 28-3.
“We had a great season. I put together the toughest schedule we’ve ever had here, and we won 28 games, a school record,” Fiorelli said. “This hurts, and it’s very difficult for these seniors to be so close two years in a row. But, we have a lot of talent coming back and we expect to be here again.”
The Longhorns defeated Melbourne, 2-1, Friday in the semifinals after allowing an unearned run in the second inning. It was the first run Harmony allowed in the postseason. But, the Horns tied it in the bottom of the second and went ahead, 2-1, in the third inning.
Lele Ocasio gave up two hits and struck out 10 to pick up the win.
Rebekah Batson and Molly Baker had RBI hits. Savannah Austin and Brooke Harris, who doubled, scored for the Longhorns.
The news from Tallahassee Friday was not so good after Tampa Robinson raced past Harmony, 46-0, in the state flag football tournament quarterfinals round. It was Harmony’s, 15-1, first loss of the season.