South Wins Inaugural All-Star Softball Classic
By Ray Bureau, “Voice of the Trinity Christian Conquerors”
Fifty-six of the top-rated softball players from North Florida’s 2019 graduating class took the high school field one last time and gave themselves and their fans one final thrill to close out their prep careers as they played in the first-ever North Florida All-Star Series Softball Classic at Oakleaf High School in Orange Park on Tuesday. Four exciting match-ups ensued, and the South All-Stars came out victorious in the championship game thanks to a four-run second inning.
All photos credited to: Charlie A. Jackson, Madison Caveman Photography
Championship Game: South 4, East 1
Santa Fe’s (Alachua) Hailey Raulerson drove home the official game-winning run with a base hit up the middle to score Drew Wrask of Buchholz (Gainesville) with the first run of the 2nd-inning rally. An error allowed Kierstyn Kolhmaier (Belleview) to score the second run, and Santa Fe’s Courtney Robinson laced a two-run single to left that capped the rally.
The South’s Kalya Betts of Eustis, a St. Leo College signee, pitched four scoreless innings for the win. Betts allowed only one infield single while walking one and striking out five. Betts got the last three batters she faced when she struck out the side in her fourth and final inning.
Raulerson then took over and pitched three innings of one-run ball to earn the save. The University of North Florida signee allowed two hits in the title game after pitching four innings of one-run ball and earning the win against the West All-Stars earlier in the day. Betts threw three scoreless one-hit innings versus the West as well.
Middleburg’s Olivia Wilber drove home the run for the East with a seventh-inning ground ball that plated Sydney Lewis of Clay (Green Cove Springs), who led off with a base hit.
Oakleaf’s Cambria Arturo and Madison Davis finished their high school careers on their home field, and each had terrific outings in the circle for their head coach, Christina Thompson. Arturo pitched three perfect innings with one strikeout while Davis allowed one hit and fanned two in her two innings of work to finish off the Classic.
Third-Place Game: West 4, North 2
Macie Thomas of Chiefland High School broke a 2-2 tie with a two-run home run in what turned out as the game’s final inning to give West a 4-2 win over North.
With Trenton’s Taniah Bowers, a Santa Fe College (Gainesville) basketball signee who might play softball at SFC too, on second after an error and a stolen base, Thomas, who is currently uncommitted, launched a fastball well over the left-center field fence for the game-winning blow.
The West trailed 2-0 as they came to bat in the bottom of the second. Columbia’s (Lake City) Cris’Deona Beasley, a SFC signee, squeezed home Bell’s Kylee Barry, who signed with D-II Newberry College in South Carolina, with the tying run after South Georgia State signee Talia Brown (Starke Bradford) scored on an overthrow.
The North got two runs in the first thanks to three consecutive two-out hits from JU signee Hallie Kern (Jacksonville Mandarin), Bailey Cooley (Jacksonville Trinity Christian), and Janae Wash (St. Johns Creekside), a Michigan State signee. Kern scored on Wash’s single, and Cooley followed on a wild pitch.
The West’s Kensley Durrance of Bell, though, settled in from there and retired 10 of 11 from that point on and eight straight to end the game to earn the complete-game victory. She struck out the side in the third. The game ended after four innings because of lighting.
Durrance, an Eckerd College signee, also pitched four scoreless innings in West’s game with the South earlier to give her a total line of 8 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, and 8 K on the afternoon.
Opening Round: East 3, North 1
Shelbea Holland of Fernandina Beach homered in the top of the fourth to put the North on the board, but the East responded with a base hit by Oakleaf’s Jasmine Lamug in the bottom half that drove home Kiersten Sanchez (Middleburg) to tie it up.
One inning later, Maggie Wilkes of St. Johns Country Day School (Orange Park) doubled in Oakleaf’s Baylee Goddard, a University of Florida signee, to give East the lead, and Wilkes then scored on a base hit from St. Johns teammate Brianna Enter, an FSU signee.
Cooley, an Eastern Florida State College signee who helped lead Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) to the Class 4A state title, did not allow a hit through the first three innings and finished with five solid innings of work. Holland pitched a scoreless sixth with two strikeouts. Davis, Arturo, and Enter pitched for the East with Arturo earning the win and Enter pitching two perfect innings for the save.
Opening Round: South 6, West 1
The South put four runs on the board in their first at-bat to take a commanding lead they would never relinquish.
Leea Hanks (Eustis) led off with a hit, stole second, and scored the first run on Courtney Robinson’s (Santa Fe) single. Drew Wrask, an Alabama State signee, and South Florida State College signee Trinity Girovasi (Belleview) both reached and scored as well. Girovasi drove in Wrask and then scored on Lake Sumter State College signee Kierstyn Kolhmier’s RBI double.
Hanks, who will play at Notre Dame next season, was 4-for-7 with a run scored and three stolen bases overall on the day.