VERO BEACH | Ponte Vedra committed five errors that led to seven unearned runs in a disastrous third inning from which they could not recover in an 11-3 loss Friday to Plantation American Heritage in a Class 6A softball semifinal at Historic Dodgertown.
“Sometimes you just fall apart as a team, and that’s what happened,” said right fielder Farley Callaghan, one of only two seniors in Ponte Vedra’s starting lineup.
American Heritage, which broke on top with a run in the bottom of the first inning, had runners on the corners on two hits with no outs in the third inning when the roof fell in on the Sharks.
Eight of the next nine American Heritage batters hit ground balls. One went through for a clean single and two were fielded cleanly for outs, but the other five were misplayed.
When the dust settled, Ponte Vedra trailed 8-0.
Though they played the rest of the game like state title contenders, for that one inning the Sharks reverted to the error-prone team that lost a midseason game to Atlantic Coast with eight errors, a defeat that had motivated them to make changes in their approach and bond as a team.
Sophomore starting pitcher Michelle Holder said that despite the spate of errors, the last two of which were her own, she did not lose faith in her defense.
On offense, the Sharks put at least one runner on base with less than two outs in each of the first innings, and catcher Taylor Bradshaw reached with two outs in the fourth when she was hit by a pitch, but the Sharks could not get a key hit with runners on base.
Not until the fifth inning, anyway, when sophomore shortstop Michelle Leone knocked her second hit, a double into the left-center field gap that scored Holder and freshman Scotland David.
That prompted American Heritage to relieve hard-throwing right-handed starting pitcher Julia Grobman with the left-handed Amelia Saviskas, who featured a repertoire of off-speed pitches.
The move apparently worked.
The Sharks managed only two singles, one by sophomore third baseman Bailey Wagoner that drove in Leone, and a walk in the last three innings off Saviskas, who also hit two batters.
Meanwhile, the Patriots regained their eight-run cushion in the sixth inning, scoring three runs on three hits and a walk.
Callaghan, who is committed to Florida Gulf Coast, said that despite the loss in her final high school game she was proud of her team’s effort.
Younger players like sophomores Holder and Leone were already looking toward next year.
“We came up short, but there’s always next year; we’ll be back,” Leone said.
Added Holder: “It’s hard to lose like this, but next year we’re going to be back, and American Heritage better watch out.”