Lady Indians’ season ends in regional semis
MAYO – The brightest season in Fort White school history came to a dark end Thursday night.
In the midst of a pitcher’s duel, all momentum shifted toward the home team when Fort White committed two crucial fielding errors in the bottom of the third inning.
Botched routine plays allowed two runs to score, and the rattled Lady Indians never quite recovered, falling 3-0 to Lafayette in the regional semifinal round.
The loss was hard to digest for the Lady Indians (17-3), who surrendered three unearned runs to the Lady Hornets (20-8) on mishandled balls.
Fort White’s focus seemed shot after the rough third inning, and the team’s batting troubles kept away any sort of late rally.
“I don’t know if it was the left-handed pitcher,” Fort White head coach Michelle Padgett said of Lafayette’s Haley Ellefson, who registered 11 strikeouts. “We haven’t seen a left-handed pitcher. It seemed like all our bad habits came out. Then they panicked within themselves.”
Looking for their first regional finals appearance, the Lady Indians entered the contest No. 2 in the Miracle Sports state softball poll while the Lady Hornets ranked No. 8.
But it wouldn’t matter on the road against regular playoff contender Lafayette.
Fort White ace Morgan Cushman was phenomenal in her final career game.
The senior’s three-hit, 12 strikeout performance was overshadowed, however, by the error-riddled third inning.
Fort White’s first playoff appearance since 2008 turned worse in the fifth inning when Lafayette shortstop Lacey Swafford’s shot to left field rolled under the legs of Shaylen Raulerson.
The mistake scored Macayla Blawn from second base, pushing the Lady Hornets’ lead.
Ellefson retired Fort White’s next six batters as Lafayette punched its ticket to a regional final matchup next week hosting Union County.
The Lady Indians’ memorable season ended sooner than they would have liked, but they’re no less proud of their 17-win campaign.
“It was a great season,” assistant coach Chad Padgett said. “We made a lot of firsts in Fort White history. Nobody should hang their head. We just didn’t hit the ball the way we know how to.”