The Key West Lady Conchs celebrate their district win last week and play in the state playoffs Thursday and Friday. BERT BUDDE/ @bertbudde

The Key West Lady Conchs softball team made history Friday night, May 20,  by winning the 4A regional championship in convincing fashion over the St. Brendan Sabers 11-1. 

This year’s Lady Conchs are the first-ever Key West High School softball team to advance to the State Finals, which features four teams. Key West is the No. 2 seed and takes on the No. 3-seeded Lake Wales on Thursday, May 26 in Clermont, Florida. 

The Lady Conchs’s pitching and hitting are peaking at the right time. They have knocked out all their opponents by the mercy 10-run rule in each of their three regional playoff games. In addition to beating the Sabers, they beat the Labelle Cowboys 15-2 in the quarter-finals and the Bonita Springs Bull Sharks 11-1 in the regional semifinals.

“This season came with a lot of surprises, but what surprised me the most was the way my team continues to step up their game no matter who we face,” said senior Yahaira Williams.  

In Friday night’s championship game on May 20, the Lady Conchs started fast and did not look back in ousting St. Brendan from the playoffs. 

Pitcher Chloe Gilday set down the Sabers in order in each of the first four innings without giving up a hit. The Lady Conchs began their onslaught in the bottom of the first. Yahaira Williams was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on a single by Madison Gonzales. Williams scored the first Conch run on a passed ball. Marina Goins then doubled to right field, scoring Gonzales. Miesha Hernandez singled on a hard ground ball to center, scoring Goins for the third and final run of the first inning. 

The bottom of the second started with a single to center on a line drive by Caroline Smith. She moved to second on a bunt single by Isabella Perez and scored on a double by Williams. An error by the second baseman allowed Perez to score. Goins next hit a short sacrifice fly to left that brought home the speedy Williams with the sixth run of the game. A single by Hernandez put two runners on base, but the Lady Conchs were unable to add to their lead. The bottom of the third started with two quick outs for Key West, but they would not be denied from scoring in the inning as Perez got things going with a double in the gap. Perez was replaced on the bases by courtesy runner Alexandra Rodriguez, who came home on a scorching double down the line to left by Williams. Williams scored the eighth run of the inning on a single by Gonzales. Key West got singles from Ty Cervantes and Hernandez and a walk to Smith loaded the bases. A wild pitch scored Cervantes while Perez laced a single to center that scored pinch-runner Taven Gage and Scarlet Niles, taking the score to 11-0. Gilday got an infield pop fly for the first out of the fifth inning. She gave up her first hit on a triple to left. That runner promptly scored on a single. A line out and another single put runners on first and second with two outs. Gilday struck out the final batter, securing the 10-run win for the Lady Conchs.

(Caroline Smith is a junior at Key West High School and a varsity softball player who covers sports for the Key West Weekly.)

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