Special to the Recorder
The news that the Ponte Vedra Lady Sharks softball team brought home the Class 6A district 4 softball title last week and advanced to the regional playoffs wasn’t really a big surprise for most followers of local softball. After all, the Lady Sharks finished the season in a tie with the Clay Blue Devils for first place in the final standings and both teams wound up with 7-1 records after splitting two 1-0 games against each other.
So, there was little doubt the two teams were the district’s cream of the crop and were destined to meet again in the final round of the playoffs hosted by the Blue Devils — however, that is not what went down!
The Sharks, as expected, earned their spot in the finals with an opening round 13-3 mercy win over Orange Park. But Clay suffered a shocking 2-1 extra inning defeat at the hands of the Ridgeview Panthers (3-5). As a result, it was the Sharks against Ridgeview, not the Sharks against Clay, for the district trophy.
Ponte Vedra could not have been happier with Ridgeview’s upset since they had beaten the Panthers twice during the season by scores of 11-0 and 18-8. The title game, however, was not the lopsided affair the previous games had been. The Sharks edged the Panthers 5-4 for the district title, but needed to come from behind twice to do it.
Ridgeview scored a run in the first inning, then Ponte Vedra answered in their half on a single by Scotland Davis, Michelle Leone’s sacrifice bunt and Farley Callaghan’s RBI base hit.
The Panthers got a break in the third inning that led to two runs. After two infield singles and a walk loaded the bases, a short fly ball behind second base dropped safely to score one run. A second walk with the bases loaded produced another, giving Ridgeview a 3-1 lead.
The Sharks tied matters in the fourth when Callaghan singled, Taylor Bradshaw walked and Olivia Zitiello singled. With the bases loaded, the Ridgeview pitcher uncorked a pair of wild pitches allowing both Callaghan and Bradshaw to score.
Ponte Vedra threatened in the fifth when David led off with a single and moved over on a Leone sacrifice bunt. Quinlan Richmond then singled to right but David was cut down at the plate.
Ridgeview scored the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh using a leadoff single, a sac bunt, an intentional walk and a base hit.
The Sharks led off the final inning trailing by one but with the top of their batting order due up. David doubled to start the inning and scored on Richmond’s double to center. Kiley Hennessey promptly singled home Richmond with the game-winning run.
David, Callaghan and Richmond each had three hits in four at bats for Ponte Vedra.