Lady Tigers rally for playoff victory over Bartram Trail
ST. JOHNS —Tied in the seventh inning, with two outs, Columbia needed a big play.
And the Lady Tigers got just that.
Alaina Perry stepped up when her teammates needed her most. The junior’s standup double on a crushed ball into the gap was enough to drive in the go-ahead run late.
Columbia freshman pitcher Cris’ Deona Beasley, who gave up only one hit in relief, finished off the Lady Bears in the bottom half en route to an 11-10 Class 7A regional quarterfinal victory over Bartram Trail on Wednesday night.
It was a memorable victory for the Lady Tigers, who overcame a six-run deficit after an abysmal opening inning.
“The game isn’t over until the last out in the seventh inning,” Columbia catcher Kamdyn Kvistad said. “With how far this team has come this season, you’re not lost until the game is over. Whether it was 10-0 or 1-0, I had confidence our team would bounce back and get the win.”
After recording four errors in the first, trailing by six, the Lady Tigers’ postseason seemed on its way to a bleak end.
Columbia refused to surrender and responded with six runs in the second inning with runs driven in by freshman Story Giebeig and senior Tatum Morgan.
It was a new ballgame for the Lady Tigers entering the third knotted at 6-6.
“I’m extremely proud of them for settling down and playing their game after that,” Columbia head coach Trudy Andrews said. “And then good things happened. They earned it.”
But the celebration wouldn’t begin there as Columbia (14-11) found themselves behind again when Bartram Trail (16-12) slugger Reedy Davenport tallied two runs on a triple.
Fayth Davis followed with an RBI single to put the Lady Tigers back into the hole, 9-6.
Yet the rally sparked again for Columbia in the fourth, tying the score on three RBI doubles from Kvistad, Perry and Dara Gaylard.
“I’ve said this before, these girls are warriors,” Andrews said. “It’s almost like they look for that moment [of adversity] to battle through it. They made a serious effort.”
S.K. Lewis’ RBI double in the fifth inning lifted Columbia to its first lead of the night, 10-9.
Beasley, who replaced Ivorie Maltby in the third, was nearly perfect on the mound in her first career playoff appearance. She finished with three strikeouts.
The freshman hadn’t given up a hit until the bottom of the sixth inning when Florida State commit Savannah Parker homered a solo-shot to tie the score for a third time.
But the rowdy Bartram Trail crowd would calm down shortly, becoming eerily silent when Perry ripped a blooper into the outfield in the seventh.
The quarterfinal victory – Columbia’s first since 2014 – catapults the Lady Tigers into a highly-anticipated semifinal matchup against district rival Gainesville next Tuesday.
“These girls are hungry for GHS,” Andrews added.
Gainesville routed Columbia in each of its three meetings this season, including a blowout victory in the District 3-7At championship last week.
“We’re ready for them,” Kvistad said. “Four times the charm.”