GHS softball heads to first final four in 8 years

Photo credit: Matt_Brown from Getty Images Pro

For the first time in eight years, the Gainesville High softball team is back in the final four.

GHS, which won the Class 7A state title in 2016, its last appearance, defeated No. 3 seed Gulf Breeze, 3-0, on the road Thursday night in an FHSAA Class 5A-Region 1 Final.

The No. 4 seed Hurricanes (23-4) had to move their game up a day due to expected bad weather on Friday night.

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Freshman Leanna Bourdage finished the night with 12 strikeouts, and she only allowed three hits, all singles.

Bourdage has thrown 18 consecutive scoreless playoff innings, which includes a 6-0 win at No. 1 seed Middleburg in the regional semifinals, and four straight scoreless innings after giving up a run in the first inning in a 12-1 win against Deltona in the regional quarterfinals.

Leanna had another outstanding performance in the circle and she got our offense going with a home run in the third inning,” said Gainesville head coach Chris Chronister, who was an assistant on the 2016 state championship team. “She has really stepped-up her game in the playoffs and shown a lot of poise for a freshman.”

She also had the game-winning hit, a solo home run in the third inning for a 1-0 lead.

In the fifth inning, junior McKenna O’Sullivan’s RBI single made it 2-0 and junior Rihanna Williams brought home another run on a sacrifice fly to left field that put the ‘Canes up 3-0.

Both teams threatened early, GHS loaded the bases in the top of the first inning against Leila Ammon, a Middle Tennessee State University signee, but a pop up to second ended the threat.

Gulf Breeze had a runner at second in the bottom of the first, but Bourdage finished the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.

The Hurricanes also stranded runners at second and third in the top of the sixth.

GHS advances to the Class 5A state semifinals in Clermont and will play either at 10 a.m. or noon on Thursday.

Their opponent is to be determined, but the Hurricanes will be no worse than a No. 3 seed.

The other three regional finals are tonight and then all four teams will be reseeded.

“We have been playing really well as a team,” Chronister said. “It is always nice to be playing your best softball in the playoffs. The team is really excited to be going to Clermont and having the opportunity to play for a state championship. The last time Gainesville was in the final four and won the state championship was 2016 and that was played in Vero Beach.”

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