BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School softball team did not have to travel far on Wednesday, April 13 to claim its third district title in seven years. The team impressively handled Royal Palm Beach 5-1 on the Wildcats’ home turf to take home the District 12-8A crown.
The district finals game was the third match-up of the season for the two teams, each grabbing an earlier win. An intense look of determination was evident on both sides.
The two squads clashed in battle on the clay, with Wellington striking the first series of blows. Mary Rodriguez launched an inside-the-park home run in the first inning, scoring two runs. Rodriguez’s mammoth hit sailed deep into center field and struck the fence to give the Wolverines an early 2-0 lead.
Wellington (17-9) delivered another blow in the second inning because of a Royal Palm Beach miscue by the outfield. A bobbled fly ball led to Wellington’s Katie Schmidt crossing the plate for the Wolverines’ third run after an error added insult to injury for the Wildcats.
Wellington appeared to be cruising to an easy victory, but the Wildcats shoved back. Royal Palm Beach’s Katherine Armstrong hit an RBI single to claw into the margin, closing in 3-1 on the Wolverines in the bottom of the second inning. Both teams traded blows through most of the innings but were unable to put more runs on the scoreboard, with some impressive defensive play.
“I have to give Brennan Cain a lot of credit; she kept them at bay,” Wellington coach Mark Boretti said of his pitcher for the night.
Wellington delivered a staggering blow in the top of the seventh inning to add to its tally. Sarah Longley hit an RBI triple, and Bailey Cain followed with an RBI single to lift the Wolverines to a 5-1 advantage heading into the bottom of the final inning.
Royal Palm Beach (12-8) needed a swift response at the plate to close in on the Wellington lead, but a relentless Wolverine defense would not allow a Wildcat rally. Cain swept the first three Royal Palm Beach batters to seal the 5-1 Wellington win, and the district championship.
“We have a mind-set; you have to make a statement from inning number one, we’re here to play,” Royal Palm Beach coach Dave Hir said. “We did not do that.”
Both teams advance to regional play.
“It’s a great win, Royal Palm didn’t give in; they fought hard,” Boretti said. “We put the ball in play. That’s what we needed to do, and those two runs in the last inning, those were huge.”
ABOVE: Wellington High School’s District 12-8A softball title-winning team.