Looking to get back to the Class 6A state championship after losing last year 1-0 to Melbourne, Doral Academy was on the precipice of reaching another title game.
A first inning 2-run home run by sophomore Sarah Breaux off of Florida Gators’ commitment Katelynn Oxley in the opening frame wouldn’t be enough, as Bartow scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh in a 3-2 thriller over Doral Academy Friday afternoon at Legends Way Softball Complex.
Bartow (28-3) will meet Pace tomorrow at noon for the Class 6A state title. Doral Academy’s season ends at 24-5-1 in the state semifinal round for the first time since 2020.
“They did a good job. Bartow did too,” Doral Academy coach Willie Viruet said. “It was a heavyweight match. They were going back and forth. It was two great pitchers. They all had their moments. (Bartow) scrapped it out in the end.”
There was a lot to unpack in that first inning as Doral Academy sophomore Sarah Breaux checked swing, which Bartow head coach Glenn Rutenbar argued to no avail. The following pitch, Breuax hit a 2-run home run, which Rutenbar argued with umpires and was then ejected from the game.
It was nerve wracking for Doral Academy heading into the bottom of the fourth inning when Bartow was able to notch a run across the plate against Firebirds’ pitcher Yessenia Lopez, who went six innings and allowed seven hits in the loss.
With the Yellow Jackets only trailing 2-1 after four, the need to get another run across the plate was something Viruet knew the Firebirds needed to make happen. It was going to be much easier said than done against Oxley, who finished the game with 18 strikeouts and yielded just three hits.
“Our schedule prepares us for this,” Viruet said. “We play a really, really tough schedule. Like day in and day out, we try to play the best and we try to travel to play the best. Playing against a pitcher like (Katelynn Oxley) is the moments we enjoy.”
In the top of the seventh inning, the Firebirds had a chance to add another run, but stranded a runner in scoring position, leaving Lopez and crew trying to hold onto a one run advantage.
The bottom of the seventh inning is when trouble started for the Firebirds as Alyssa Hillman reached base and then eventually crossed the plate on a triple by Kynley Quartermaine. The game tied at 2-2, it set up the game-winning hit by Destiny Driskell, driving in Quartermaine for the go-ahead run.
“We were just chipping away, trying to get that extra run,” Viruet added. “That’s what we’ve been trying to do all year. (Katelynn Oxley) kept us off balance and made the pitches she was supposed to. I knew two runs wouldn’t be enough, that’s why the top of the seventh was a big deal.”