Matanzas defeated the Wolves for the third time this season to claim the district title.
Despite leading 1-0 after the first inning in the district championship game against Deltona, the Pirates were nervous — and it showed.
In the top of the second inning, with two outs already on board, Pirates shortstop Ellie Hansen scooped up a ground ball and made a throw to first. The ball hit the glove of first baseman Lovie Haley well before the Wolves’ runner’s foot touched the bag. It would have been a routine out to retire the side — but the ball was dropped.
On the very next at-bat, Deltona hit another ground ball, which was once again scooped up by Hansen. But this time, her throw was wild. It sailed over Haley's outstretched glove, and the Wolves were able to score two runs to take the lead.
“We knew it was going to be a tough fight,” Matanzas coach Sabrina Manhart said. “Everybody is out to get us. Nobody is just going to hand this to us.”
"This is our chance. This is our year. It doesn’t stop now. There's no going back.”
Savannah Evans, Matanzas softball player
The Pirates, as they have done all season, battled back.
The rally started in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Hansen ripped a double deep into left field. Freshman pitcher Emma Wood stepped into the box next and delivered another hard hit near the left field wall, which plated Hansen. The Pirates led 4-2 heading to the top of the fifth.
After scoring one run, Deltona loaded the bases in the fifth inning, but Wood was able to escape the jam and preserve Matanzas’ lead.
The bottom of the fifth started with a lead-off single by Flagler Palm Coast transfer Randa Motsinger, who went 3-for-3 at the plate against the Wolves.
“I wasn’t trying to do too much,” she said. “I wasn’t trying to swing for the fences. I was just trying to get on base and move runners.”
The Wolves ended up pulling their starting pitcher after 4.1 innings. The reliever loaded the bases for Matanzas after walking catcher Lexie Hawkins.
Haley and Nikolena Perrine each had RBIs to extend the Pirates' lead to 7-3.
“We know we can come back with our bats,” Hawkins said. “We know we can make runs happen. We just had to get our heads in the game and score runs.”
The Pirates took a five-run lead into the top of the seventh.
Wood gave up two runs in the inning. But even with the jeering of the Deltona dugout, she remained focused.
After taking down two hitters, Wood got a Deltona batter to hit a ground ball. It was picked up by Alyssa Payne, who rifled it to Motsinger at first for the game-sealing out.
The Pirates defeated the Wolves 8-5 on the afternoon of Monday, May 6, at Daytona State College to claim the district title. It was the first district championship in Matanzas softball history.
“I’m so happy that we were able to make so much history this year with this group,” Manhart said. “You can’t do this with just any group, and I was so fortunate to walk into this program at the time that I did. This is the right group, for sure, to start us off.”