GHS, Santa Fe move on to district softball final

Gainesville's Braylin Cook (27) celebrates with her teammates after hitting a two-run first-inning home run against Columbia in the 5A-District 2 Semifinal on Tuesday.
Gainesville's Braylin Cook (27) celebrates with her teammates after hitting a two-run first-inning home run against Columbia in the 5A-District 2 Semifinal on Tuesday.
Photo by C.J. Gish

GHS 10, Columbia (Lake City) 3 – Junior catcher Braylin Cook hit three home runs as No. 2 seed GHS cruised to a 10-3 win at home against No. 3 Columbia (Lake City) in a Class 5A-District 2 Semifinal.

Seven of the Hurricanes’ 12 hits were extra-base hits, including three doubles and four home runs.

“We were seeing the ball well tonight,” said Gainesville coach Chris Chronister, whose team will play at No. 1 seed Middleburg at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday for the district title. “We’ve been working on our hitting, and it paid off tonight.”

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Middleburg defeated No. 5 seed Ridgeview (Orange Park), 4-3, in eight innings in the other district semifinal.

Gainesville's Leanna Bourdage pitched a four-hitter with eight strikeouts in a 10-3 win over Columbia in the 5A District 2 Semifinal on Tuesday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Gainesville’s Leanna Bourdage pitched a four-hitter with eight strikeouts in a 10-3 win over Columbia in the 5A District 2 Semifinal on Tuesday.

Cook (4-for-4, 4 RBI, 4 RS) started the fireworks in the bottom of the first inning.

Senior Elise Knopf (2-for-3, RS) singled down the third base line to start the inning.

A couple of batters later Cook homered to left field for a 2-0 lead.

“We’ve been practicing on the hitting machine, we were prepared for this game,” Cook said. “I feel like everybody showed up, showed out.”

Columbia (13-11), which could still receive an at-large bid as the current No. 7 team in 5A-Region 1, answered in the top of the second inning.

Sophomore Luisa Taylor led off the inning with a single to center field, went to second on a wild pitch, and advanced to third on a passed ball.

She scored on an RBI single by junior Alex Collins to make it 2-1.

But in the bottom of the third inning, GHS began to pull away.

Junior Josie Kirwan led off the inning with a double to right center field.

After advancing to third on a wild pitch, GHS attempted a suicide squeeze bunt by Columbia transfer McKenna O’Sullivan.

However, O’Sullivan failed to lay down the bunt and Kirwan got caught in a run down.

Fortunately, after several throws back and forth, she was able to avoid the tag of Columbia pitcher Kinley King and tag the plate safely.

“We were going for the squeeze,” Chronister said. “It was probably an outside pitch, and she couldn’t get the bat on it, it looked like she was reaching for it. She tried to bunt it. Josie got caught in a rundown. She did a good job of staying alive in the rundown and then just went for it. In that situation you kind of have a little bit of luck on your side. They made a throw to the inside of the baseline, Josie’s on the outside, and they weren’t able to make the tag and Josie was able to get in, so it worked out for us. It was a big play at that time.”

Gainesville's Josie Kirwan (13) got caught in a run down between third base and home but ended up scoring on a missed tag against Columbia on Tuesday in the 5A District 2 Semifinal.
Photo by C.J. Gish Gainesville’s Josie Kirwan (13) got caught in a run down between third base and home but ended up scoring on a missed tag against Columbia on Tuesday in the 5A District 2 Semifinal.

After O’Sullivan grounded out to shortstop, the Hurricanes (19-4) also got a home run from freshman pitcher Leanna Bourdage (1-for-3, HR, RBI, 2 RS), who threw a complete game four-hitter with two walks and eight strikeouts.

Columbia relief pitcher Harleigh Price, who threw a perfect game in the district quarterfinals, relieved King and decided to pitch to Cook, who deposited the pitch over the center field wall for a 5-1 lead.

Against Santa Fe (Alachua) last Monday, Cook hit a first inning home run, but the Raiders intentionally walked her the remainder of the game.

“I was very surprised (Price pitched to me) because I was thinking it was going to be the same situation as Santa Fe,” Cook said. “Come out and hit a home run in the first inning and they’re going to walk me the whole time, but they didn’t. I’m glad.”

Cook added a double off the fence in the fifth inning as the Hurricanes scored four runs on three hits, including a two-run double by sophomore Roxanne Walsh (2-for-3, 2 RBI) for a 9-3 lead.

Cook finished her big night with a solo home run to center field in the sixth inning, her 10th home run of the season.

The pitching machine made a difference.

“Since we’ve been playing slower pitching teams, and we know we’re going to see faster pitching going on to districts and state, the pitching machine is around like 63 miles per hour, so we’ve all been hitting off of that,” Cook said. “We did really good at practice, so I knew we were going to come today and perform.”

Santa Fe 17, P.K. Yonge 2 (3 innings) – The Raiders erupted for 13 runs in the first inning to rout the Blue Wave, 17-2, in three innings in a Class 3A-District 5 semifinal in Alachua.

Junior J’lyn Guyden (2-for-2, DBL, HR, 5 RBI, 3 RS) hit a home run and drove in five runs for the Raiders (20-4), who won their 10th game in their last 11 outings.

Senior Amy Crosby (3-for-3, 2 triples, 3 RBI, 3 RS) and junior Madolyn Jablonski (2-for-3, 3 RBI) each drove in three runs for Santa Fe, which will host Trinity Catholic (Ocala) at 7 p.m. on Thursday for the district title.

The Celtics (20-6) defeated Dunnellon, 3-0, in the other district semifinal.

FHSAA SOFTBALL DISTRICT TOURNAMENTS

Class 1A-District 6 at Branford

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

1 Fort White 14, 5 Union County (Lake Butler) 1 (5)

2 Branford 10, 3 Lafayette (Mayo) 0 (6)

Thursday, May 2 – Championship

2 Branford at 1 Fort White

Class 1A-District 7 at Higher seed

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

2 Chiefland 4, 3 Newberry 1

1 Trenton 11, 5 Dixie County 0 (5)

Thursday, May 2 – Championship

2 Chiefland at 1 Trenton, 7 p.m.

Class 1A-District 8 at Williston

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

3 Hawthorne 11, 2 Glades Day (Belle Glade) 0 (5)

1 Williston 17, 4 Wildwood 0 (3)

Thursday, May 2 – Championship

3 Hawthorne at 1 Williston, 7 p.m.

Class 3A-District 2 at Higher seed

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

4 Florida High (Tallahassee) 9, 1 Marianna 2

2 Suwannee (Live Oak) 3, 3 Taylor County (Perry) 2

Thursday, May 2 – Championship

4 Florida High (Tallahassee) at 2 Suwannee (Live Oak)

Class 3A-District 3 at Palatka

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

1 Keystone Heights 7, 4 Taylor (Pierson) 1

2 Palatka 11, 3 Bradford (Starke) 6

Thursday, May 2 – Championship

1 Keystone Heights at 2 Palatka, 6:30 p.m.

Class 3A-District 5 at Santa Fe (Alachua)

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

2 Trinity Catholic (Ocala) 3, 3 Dunnellon 0

1 Santa Fe (Alachua) 17, 4 P.K. Yonge 2 (3)

Thursday, May 2 – Championship

2 Trinity Catholic (Ocala) at 1 Santa Fe (Alachua), 7 p.m.

Class 5A-District 2 at Higher seed

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

2 GHS 10, 3 Columbia (Lake City) 3

1 Middleburg 4, 5 Ridgeview (Orange Park) 3 (8)

Thursday, May 2 – Championship

2 GHS at 1 Middleburg, 6:30 p.m.

Class 6A-District 3 at Oakleaf (Orange Park)

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

1 Oakleaf (Orange Park) 13, 4 Buchholz 3 (5)

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