Tornadoes fall to Santa Fe by 1 run in district title game
BY CLIFF SMELLEY
Santa Fe scored an unearned run in the fifth inning that proved to be the difference in a 5-4 win over Bradford in the championship game of the District 5-4A softball tournament on April 18 in Starke.
The Tornadoes (20-5) were denied their third straight district title, but their goal of getting to the state tournament remains. Bradford will travel to play South Sumter in a Region 2 quarterfinal game on Thursday, April 23, at 7 p.m.
“Obviously a district championship is a thing you want to win,” Bradford head coach Daniel Davis said, “but ultimately you still have a shot to go to the playoffs and reach some other goals. We’re going to make sure we maintain focus on the long-term goal.”
Bradford fell behind when Santa Fe’s Shelbee Blackburn hit a two-run homer in the top of the first, but the Tornadoes took a 3-2 lead in the second when Kaylen Chitty scored on a wild pitch and a Sabina Watson single scored Savana Shealey and Shianne Cassels.
Santa Fe scored two unearned runs in the third, taking advantage of a hit batter and an error to put runners on.
A Taylor Cruce bunt scored Megan Farmer in the fourth as Bradford evened the score at 4-4. The Tornadoes had runners at the corners with just one out, but failed to score another run.
Cruce led Bradford’s batters, going 2-for-4.
Santa Fe pitcher Ashtin Strickland, who threw close to 200 pitches the night before in the Raiders’ 8-6 semifinal win over Keystone Heights, gave up six hits and struck out nine.
Bradford pitcher Shelby Wilkison gave up just four hits.
The Raiders will host Hudson in the April 23 regional quarterfinals.