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Kowgirls beat St. Cloud 1-0, take OBC softball lead

Posted on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 4:00 pm

By Ken Jackson
Sports Editor

The Osceola High softball team cleared a big hurdle in claiming the Orange Belt Conference title Friday with a 1-0 instant-classic victory over St. Cloud

The Kowgirls (8-2) got a leadoff double in the top of the fourth inning from Natalie Ferrer, and moved to third and scored on a pair of groundouts.

Senior hurler Liane Santiago hurled the complete game shutout in a meeting of two teams looking to defend district championships later this spring.

The game was everything coaches, players and fans could hope for out of a Osceola-St. Cloud matchup, OHS Coach George Coffey said.

“It was a really good ballgame. We played great defense, (catcher) Maria Nunez made a great tag behind the plate on a throw from the outfield to keep us in the lead,” he said.

The win followed a 15-1 OBC win over Gateway on Tuesday and Osceola’s only losses, 10-4 and 8-2 at home to state powers St. Thomas Aquinas and Pembroke Pines Charter.

“Despite those losses we’re tickled to death how it’s gone so far,” Coffey said. “We said at the start of the year we’re young and were going to have fun, but also be competitive. Even in those games we lost, the girls fought to the end and, instead of just rolling over, they scored a couple of runs late.”

During spring break Osceola heads to Pembroke Pines to play in the Speedball Tournament; the Kowgirls open Thursday against Parkland Stoneman Douglas.

They will host Harmony (April 3) and Celebration (April 10), and a sweep will give them the OBC title. In between the will host the annual Kissimmee Klassic April 5-7 at the Osceola County Softball Complex.

St. Cloud was at 7-3 heading into a District 8A-10 matchup against East River, with the losses to Osceola and the same Aquinas and Pembroke squads.

“It was a tough loss Friday, but when you are young as we are, the maturity of the team will grow from game to game, it’s a game that the girls will learn from,” Bulldogs Coach Ray Whobrey said. “We will learn so much more as a team then if we would of won, and that’s all I can ask.

Aside from center fielder Brianna Rodriguez (.320, 11 runs, 8 stolen bases), the St. Cloud lineup is very young, led early this season by Rodriguez, freshman shortstop Evoni Rodriguez (.440, 11 runs, 11 RBI, 3 triples) and sophomore first baseman Taylor McFann (.524, 7 RBI). Junior pitcher Alyssa O’Donnell is 4-1 with an 0.74 ERA.

“You can see the growth of this team after each game. Monday’s practice is probably one of the best this team has had and understands now how we can not take any team lightly,” said Whobrey, who is challenging that young lineup with a tough schedule, especially right after spring break.

The Bulldogs will play in the Rutenbar Classic in Bartow and open March 30 against state powers Winter Springs and Bartow, likely regional playoff opponents, and follow that by playing in the Kissimmee Klassic.

“We are excited about the rest of the season and I can’t wait to watch the it play out,” Whobrey said. “I am so excited about this team because I know the potential it has and how good they can be.”