TKA, WHS Softball Teams End Seasons With Regional Losses

TKA’s girls varsity softball team.

While the King’s Academy girls varsity softball team may have concluded its overall season on a three-game losing streak, it doesn’t detract from what was a winning and memorable season.

The Lions had a regular season record of 15-2. Despite losing 3-2 to local rival Cardinal Newman High School on May 1 in the semifinals of the Class 3A, District 13 tournament and then falling 11-1 to Westminster Christian School of Miami in the regional quarterfinal game on May 8, head coach Kim Needle was delighted with her team’s overall play this spring.

“We had a great season, and some illness and injuries that definitely played a factor toward the end of the season,” Needle said. “These girls worked extremely hard to pull it together and give their all.”

The team owes much of its success to the play of three specific freshmen — Gracyn Needle, Lily Stone and Caroline Duncan.

On defense, Gracyn Needle played either shortstop or catcher. During the season, she only had one error and helped her team turn five double plays. On offense, she had an on-base percentage of .655, batted .574, drove in 29 runs, scored 28 runs, slugged nine doubles and hit three home runs with only one strikeout during the entire season. In the postseason, she went 7-for-9 with four doubles.

Defensively, Stone played second base or shortstop, where she had 35 putouts and committed only two errors. On offense, she batted .545, had 32 RBIs, hit five triples and slugged four doubles.

Duncan was the team’s top pitcher. During the season, she had a win-loss record of 13-4. Her earned run average was a stingy 1.56. She held opponents to a .180 batting average. Offensively, Duncan was a big contributor to the team’s overall success, hitting .298 with a pair of home runs.

Other players for TKA’s softball team who had strong performances included sophomore centerfielder Kiersten Zimmerman, who hit .460, scored 30 runs, had 16 RBIs and stroked five doubles. Sixth-grader Emma Thornton hit .420 while playing as the team’s catcher or second baseman. Eighth-grader Caitlyn Valley hit .304 while splitting her time between left field and the pitcher’s mound. Freshman right fielder Sarai Brabham batted .298 and had an impressive on-base percentage of .483, while junior first baseman Hailey Adkins hit .300 with an on-base percentage of .469.

“Hailey was voted the team’s most improved player, as it was her first time playing softball since she was in middle school,” Needle said.

With the 2024 season complete, it’s now time for TKA’s players and coaches to focus on 2025 and beyond.

“The season is now over, but the training and focus on next year is in all of our hearts and minds,” added Needle, whose team had no seniors on the roster this spring. “Our mission: let’s continue to get stronger and fine-tune the small things to be even better next year.”

WHS Softball Falls in Regional Semifinals — The Wellington High School varsity softball team’s plans of returning to the Florida High School Athletic Association’s state finals in Clermont were derailed by Jupiter High School on Tuesday, May 14 in the Class 7A, Region 3 semifinal.

Jupiter scored the game’s only two runs in the sixth inning to win, 2-0. Despite the fact that Wellington was the top seed in Region 3 and the top-ranked Class 7A team in Florida, the game was expected to be close based on the regular season game played between both teams back on March 6, when Wellington won, 2-1.

Wellington head coach Mark Boretti was proud of his team’s overall play this spring, but sorry to see the season come to an unexpected end.

“It was a long season that involved some tough times, but we stayed together as a team,” Boretti said. “A record of 20-4 is pretty good, but not what we played the season for. We played to get back to states, so it’s disappointing.”

The highlight of the season for Wellington was a victory against longtime cross-county rival Palm Beach Gardens High School in the Class 7A, District 12 tournament on May 2, when the Wolverines prevailed 7-6. It was Wellington’s eighth district tournament title during Boretti’s 15 years as the head coach.

Wellington High School’s girls softball team after winning the district championship.

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