A SHOT AT HISTORY
FORT WHITE — It’s been a three-year process building the softball program at Fort White.
So far this season they’ve met expectations, still undefeated and ranked second overall in the Class 1A Miracle Sports state softball poll.
Now, tonight, the Lady Indians have a chance to make history.
Fort White (14-0, 10-0) hosts Union County (10-3, 8-1) in the biggest district game in school history. With a win, the Lady Indians clinch the top-seed in the District 6-1A tournament for the first time ever.
“We’ve never been the district champs and they’ll have the chance. They know [tonight] is for everything,” Fort White assistant coach Chad Padgett said.
The Lady Indians took the first meeting from the Lady Fightin’ Tigers 4-3 in Lake Butler on February 18. It’s the closest game Fort White has been in this season and one of only two times its trailed all year.
Union County led 2-0 early that night before Fort White rallied for four straight runs, including three in the fifth. The Lady Indians gave up a run in the sixth before holding on to remain unbeaten.
“That’s the thing about these kids, they’ve got the will and the drive to perform to win. When they get down they don’t stop,” Padgett said.
Union County is 6-1 since that February loss and red-hot at the plate, scoring 11 runs or more in five of those six wins. Kaylan Tucker continues to rip the skin off the ball, hitting a team-best .488 with three home runs and 23 RBI, including two in Fort White’s win in February.
Fort White won another game due to the mercy rule Tuesday night when they defeated Bronson 14-1. Despite the blowout, the Lady Indians believe they played flat in the win.
That may have been due to an eight-day layoff but they’re glad they had a game to get back into a groove before tonight’s showdown, which happens to be their final home game of the regular season.
“What we’ve noticed is they play harder with better teams,” Fort White head coach Michele Padgett said. “We won [Tuesday] but we feel like they played to the ability of the team we played.”
If playing to their opponents’ ability is the case again tonight, then the Lady Indians should be just fine.
“I think they’ll come out much more competitive [tonight],” Padgett said. “I think they’ve gotten into the habit of winning.”
Fort White will have another week off after tonight before facing Williston next Thursday and then Hamilton County on April 5 following spring break. Then it’s onto the district tournament, which just happens to be at Union County.
But the Lady Indians are thinking further to the future.
They’re focused on a state championship.
“We’re already thinking beyond it already and the girls are too,” Padgett said. “They’re not going to be satisfied with just the district. They want more and they expect more. They expect to win.”
How could they expect anything less?
It’s all they’ve known all season long.