The Wellington High School softball team defeated rival Royal Palm Beach High School 3-2 in a nail-biter district title match-up Wednesday, May 1. It was the second straight District 13-8A title for the host Wolverines (24-2), who won back-to-back against the Wildcats.
The two local softball powers have battled tightly, establishing a rival clash each season. Royal Palm Beach (16-10) defeated Wellington two years ago for the district title, but it was the runner-up Wolverines that advanced to capture the regional title and head to the state tournament. All of which has added fuel to the matchup, both in the regular season and the postseason.
“We always know they’re going to come and play the best they can play,” Wellington coach Mark Boretti said. “I expected it to be just like it was, sweating it out, and we came out on top. But it could have been the other way around. They played great. Hats off to them.”
It was Wellington senior Katie Schmidt who stole the show in the bottom of the seventh inning when she struck a walk-off single to send in speedster Cat Glenn for the winning run. Glenn struck a line drive that sailed just over the Royal Palm Beach center fielder, falling short of the fence. However, Glenn’s speed landed her on third base, poised to reach the plate for the game-winner.
“I’ve never hit one that far this season,” Glenn said. “When I saw it coming, it was a yes, yes all around. I just hacked at it as hard as I could.”
Royal Palm Beach made a tactical decision to walk Wellington’s next two batters after Glenn’s triple, being familiar with her speed.
“I created a force at the plate, because it’s no longer a throw her out tag, it’s put your foot on the plate, and we just have to beat her with the throw,” Royal Palm Beach coach Dave Hir explained. “If it goes out there, she’s going to score, so we pulled the outfielders up, and it is what it is.”
Earlier, Wellington held a two-run lead entering the third inning, while limiting Royal Palm Beach on offense, despite having the bases loaded twice through the contest.
The Wildcats clawed back, notching runs in the fourth and sixth innings to tie the game 2-2. Both teams’ defensive units played lights out, making big plays. Wellington’s Kate DeSimone recorded nine strikeouts, while Royal Palm Beach’s Kayla Bruno struck out five batters.
Wellington’s defense produced a solid performance in the top of the seventh inning keeping the game tied, in an effort to make something happen from the dugout in the bottom of the seventh. Schmidt then concluded the contest with her line drive through center field that put Glenn across the plate for the win.
“We knew coming out that this was going to be a fight,” Schmidt said. “I think it was in the fifth inning, I didn’t get to score anyone, and I was upset, but I said, ‘Let me get up one more time.’ He walked the next two girls, and I said, ‘I can do this. I’m ready for this.’”
Royal Palm Beach’s Kiera Mainolfi and Brianna Rivera each had an RBI. Schmidt recorded two RBIs, and Alison Rodriguez is credited with an RBI.
Wellington hosted Lakeland’s George Jenkins High School, while Royal Palm Beach traveled to Bartow on Wednesday, May 8 in regional tournament action, but results were not available by press time.