VERO BEACH — At the mercy of a simple swing of a bat Thursday at Historic Dodgertown, the Bloomingdale High softball team was a pitch away from winning a state championship or wallowing in sadness as runner-up.
With two outs and runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh inning of the Class 8A title game, Bulls pitcher Lace Smith was ahead two strikes on Hagerty's Alexandra Miller.
Miller took a swing at Smith's pitch, sending it deep to left field but into the waiting glove of sophomore Taylor Engman.
Final score: Bloomingdale 3, Hagerty 2.
“It's unbelievable,” catcher Samantha Selden said. “It's an amazing feeling.”
Bloomingdale, which had not made the playoffs since 2009 until this season, completed one of the most magical runs in school history by capturing the program's first state title since 1993, and in the process, upsetting the No. 1-ranked team in its classification.
“It was most definitely a team win, from top to bottom,” first-year coach Mandy Schuerman said. “This year has been really unique, as in we're not seeing the same player come up big every game. We're having great defense consistently and consistently on the mound and offensively, we're really getting a lot of production out of the lineup.”
Bloomingdale (28-3) scored three runs off five hits in the third inning to take a 3-0 lead. In the inning, the Bulls, ranked sixth in the 8A poll, loaded the bases with one out and Selden started the rally with a RBI single to score Darby Bernaldo. First baseman Tyler Farrell followed with a two-run single to score Smith and Shannon Eckaus.
“I was trying to put the ball in play to see if I could knock in a run and I got lucky,” Farrell said.
In the bottom of the seventh, Hagerty scored two runs with one out on consecutive RBI singles. Bloomingdale got the second out, opting for a fielder's choice to get the runner heading to second.
In the most intense of situations for a pitcher, against Hagerty's Miller, Smith knew the game was on the line.
“Pitch the ball and make sure you get that strike to get ahead of the count so they don't score that third run,” she said.
Smith had seven strikeouts and two walks and received support from her defense, especially a 6-4-3 double play to end the sixth from Bernaldo to Liz Jackson to Farrell.
“That's how we were able to get here,” Smith said. “Working together, getting those timely hits and staying together as a team with no drama in between.”