Playoff softball: Park Vista eliminated by late Lake Brantley rally in state semifinal

·3 min read

CLERMONT — Jaiden Griffin led off the bottom of the sixth with an inside-the-park home run, and her second-seeded Lake Brantley teammates plated two more runs as the Patriots recorded a 3-1 come-from-behind win over Park Vista in the Class 7A FHSAA softball state championship on Friday afternoon.

The win sends Lake Brantley (25-4) into Sevening’s championship against top-seeded Lakewood Ranch (29-2), an 11-3 winner over Western. Park Vista, which won the 9A title in 2019 and lost in the semifinals last year, finished the season at 22-6.

“Not a lot to say about this one, we played really well for most of the game and had one bad inning,” Park Vista coach Joe DellaRocca said. “You get to this stage and every team is good. They made a few more plays than we did.”

Illiana Hernandez and Karina Raider of Park Vista celebrate a nice play against Lake Brantley in the FHSAA state Class 7A softball semifinal Friday, May 27, 2022. Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY via USA TODAY NETWORK
Illiana Hernandez and Karina Raider of Park Vista celebrate a nice play against Lake Brantley in the FHSAA state Class 7A softball semifinal Friday, May 27, 2022. Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY via USA TODAY NETWORK

The contest, which was delayed for nearly two hours in the first inning by lightning, went Park Vista’s way for the first five innings.

The Cobras jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Iliana Hernandez reached on a single and stole second. She moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Isabella Golas’ RBI single. Golas would then steal second and third but was picked off on a delayed steal.

Park Vista missed another opportunity to score in the fourth, putting runners on the corners with two outs. But on a delayed double steal, Cristina Penney was thrown out at second before Hernandez could score from third and the game remained 1-0.

With the outfield pulled around to the right, Griffin would then slash the ball down the left-field line and would beat the throw home to tie the game 1-1.

“They were shifted all the way around and pitching me outside the whole game,” Griffin said. “The pitch I hit was a mistake, she left it in and I was able to turn on it.”

Cristina Penney of Park Vista reacts after making an out against Lake Brantley in the FHSAA state Class 7A softball semifinal Friday, May 27, 2022. Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY via USA TODAY NETWORK
Cristina Penney of Park Vista reacts after making an out against Lake Brantley in the FHSAA state Class 7A softball semifinal Friday, May 27, 2022. Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY via USA TODAY NETWORK

After the inside-the-park home run, Conway Madison would single, and with two outs, Bristin Bordeau delivered an RBI double to the right-center gap. She would come around to score on starting pitcher Hannah Marien’s bloop single to make it 3-1.

After giving up the early run in the second, Marien was solid — retiring 15 of the last 18 she faced.  She allowed five hits in the game, walking one and striking out seven.

As has been the case all season, Park Vista rotated pitchers Chloe Fariello and Nicole Mergen on the mound — making several changes in mid-inning. Fariello allowed four hits in the sixth and was charged with all three runs.

Illiana Hernandez of Park Vista fires up her teammates after scoring against Lake Brantley at the FHSAA state Class 7A softball semifinals in Clermont, FL Friday, May 27, 2022. Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY via USA TODAY NETWORK
Illiana Hernandez of Park Vista fires up her teammates after scoring against Lake Brantley at the FHSAA state Class 7A softball semifinals in Clermont, FL Friday, May 27, 2022. Craig Bailey/FLORIDA TODAY via USA TODAY NETWORK

“We have done that all season with a high degree of success,” DellaRocca said. “Give them the credit, they picked up the big hits when they needed them.”

The two allowed eight hits with five of those coming in the fateful sixth inning. They struck out five and walked just one. 

“Our seniors provided some great leadership this year and played a huge role in getting us back to the Final Four after we lost 11 seniors last year,” DellaRocca added. “We have a lot of talent returning.”

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Softball: Park Vista eliminated by Lake Brantley rally in state semis