Last Friday, the Melbourne High softball team traveled to Barty in hopes of finding out their fate by the end of the state playoff tournament.
Rainy weather forced the game to be postponed to Saturday morning, which means the Bulldogs had to come back early in the morning.
After all the rainy weather and back-and-forth trips Melbourne defeated Bartow 2-0 and secured a place in the state semi-finals of Class 6A against Pace.
“We had to regroup and leave at 6am,” Melbourne head coach Dan Edel said. “I thought their performance was up to par, we knew mileage would be more expensive.”
It will be the furthest that the team has advanced to the playoffs in a few years after falling in the 2014 state semifinals against Harmony 2-1.
How they got there:Melbourne High in softball defeated Bartow
Edel was an assistant coach on the team in 2014, and he said his goal is not only to win everything for the current team, but also for those who were before them.
“In the end, I want to bring to Melbourne the state title for the previous coaching staff and all the other Melbourne high school players,” Edel said.
The Bulldogs seem to be prepared to win everything based on the dominance they have demonstrated all season. Thanks to their defense, punches and serve, they proved to be a challenge in all aspects of the game.
They entered the playoffs, losing just two games and were not allowed to score more than one series in any regular season game.
The serve was a steady strong point for the team. Sophomores Jasmine Francis and senior Kyle Berry were nearly impossible for the teams to score runs.
In three games of the playoffs, Melbourne’s bogus staff did not give up the series and went to the semifinals, Francisco had 225 strikeouts and Berry had 149 strikeouts.
Edel said both pitchers look different for battling opponents, mentioning the team’s ability to support two pitchers.
“We have an extra battery of pitchers as well as strikers, we have 12 girls who can really wave the bat,” Edel said.
Sophomore catcher Alicia Thompson leads the team in averages (0.370), home runs (9) and WRC (24).
Bulldogs also get jogs from other big bats in line. Eli Turner has 24 RBIs and four home runs, Sophia Valkurt has 15 RBIs, Neva Lowridge has 13 RBIs, and Nadia English adds 17 RBIs.
Having the opportunity to play in the state championship on the line, Edel stressed the importance of focusing on the opponent and not looking too far ahead.
“We’ve really taught them to go day after day and opponent after opponent, we never look back at the opponent,” Edel said. “We care about what we can control, and if we can handle Friday, we can watch Saturday.”
Melbourne will meet Pace on Friday at Legend’s Way Ballfield in Clermont at 11:15