By Kyle LoJacono
The Academy at the Lakes softball team has played in the Class 1A regional tournament every year since 2008 and the current Wildcats made sure that streak will live on.
The academy (8-8) advanced to the finals of the Class 1A-District 9 tournament by defeating Cambridge Christian 10-0 on April 19.
“It’s a feather in the players’ caps,” said Wildcats second-year coach Jack Shirling. “They’ve really worked hard to get better all year and this says a lot about what they’ve put into this season. It’s really about the older players helping the younger girls.”
The Wildcats faced off against event host Canterbury April 21, but could not bring home the program’s first district crown losing 6-0 on April 21. The academy still advances as the runner-up for the fourth straight year, the first team to do so in the Wildcats’ history.
“It’s really special for our school,” said Wildcats athletic director Tom Haslam. “We’ve had some make it two years in a row, but never this many. The girls have really stepped up and have really done special things during the last few years.”
The academy had a one run lead in the semifinals until the sixth inning. The Wildcats exploded for nine runs during the last two innings, banging out 15 hits. Lauren Evans and Sydney Boynton combined to pitch a shutout.
Canterbury knocked off Carrollwood Day in the other semifinals contest 16-0.
The Wildcats will next play at Sarasota Christian on Tuesday, April 26 at 7 p.m. Last year the academy won its opening round game 2-1 against Sarasota Christian, the first regional win for the school.
“We’re very excited about building the program here,” Shirling said. “There are challenges with being a small program, but the kids really embrace that role. We only have one senior, so hopefully this continues into the future.”