The Ponte Vedra softball team lost to Ridgeview 7-1 in the district championship on Thursday at Clay High School.
The game was a resume builder for Panthers pitcher/catcher combo Brittany and Brooke Michael, who facilitated eight strikeouts, four pop outs and six outs for Ridgeview.
Sharks pitcher Michelle Holder put up a valiant defense on the mound with persistent focus, even after a 3-RBI homerun was delivered by Tatiana Ilias in the fourth. Holder gave up seven hits, earning four strikeouts. Overall, however, her performance was hindered by the rise ball often missing its mark. At the plate, Holder pounded a long fly ball, unfortunately squelched by Ridgeview left fielder Natalie Foret.
Ponte Vedra’s Tara McGee racked up two amazing plays: one put out at home on a throw by Scotty David from center, and one pick off throw to Bailey Wagoner at third base for a crucial out.
Other notables were Ponte Vedra’s infielders. Strong performances came from Bailey Wagoner at third base, who was also robbed of a base hit that was pummeled to left; Catherine Beaton at second; and Michelle Leone, who tallied nine athletic moves at short while launching one to center that was also picked out of the sky.
Olivia Zitiello showed endurance at first for a total of 12 solid plays. Who could forget center fielder Scotland David’s five outfield contributions to the Sharks’ cause? It was her bat that was most valuable Thursday evening, as she went 2 for 4 against the Michael monster.
Maggie Richardson managed to find a straight one as DP and sent it packing to left field for a single, while Olivia Zitiello, Tara McGee and Brooke Pattison each launched doubles. Save for Pattison’s RBI sending McGee home in the seventh, none of these hits were enough to best Ridgeview.
As a result, Ridgeview took first in the district, and the Ponte Vedra Sharks earned second place overall. Both teams advance to regional play on Wednesday. Ponte Vedra faces Paxon in Jacksonville at 7 p.m. in the regional quarterfinal of the state championship tournament.