Knights outslug Celtics in softball

Vanguard beats Trinity Catholic in regular season finale

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Posted April 27, 2023 | By Mark Pinson
Special to The Ocala Gazette
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

Vanguard’s Victoria Graham belted a solo home run and had two RBI, and Hannah Davis knocked in three runs to lead the Knights to a 12-8 come-from-behind victory over Trinity Catholic on Thursday night in the regular season finale for both teams.

Vanguard, which improved to 16-6 on the season, overcame a four-run deficit with a combination of bunting, stealing bases, key extra-base hits and solid relief pitching.

“I’m proud of this team because they don’t quit and fight to the end,” said Knights coach Carrie Vance. “Victoria and Hannah did a good job of putting the ball in play and making something happen.”

The loss dropped Trinity Catholic, which committed five costly errors, to 10-14 overall.

“We made some errors with two outs and that’s what hurt us,” said Celtics assistant coach Todd Duffy.

Trinity Catholic took the early lead with a four-run outburst in the first inning as Kinley Libby drilled a two-run double to score Kristina Fogelman and Emma Kaylor. An infield error by Vanguard allowed another run to cross the plate and a single by Anjali Vassou plated Emma Simms to give the Celtics a 4-0 lead.

Vanguard got on the scoreboard in the top of the second inning when Graham blasted a solo home run high over the left-field fence to pull the Knights within 4-1.

Trinity Catholic added to its lead in the bottom of the second inning when Kaylor singled, stole second base and raced home on a single to right field by Libby off Vanguard starter Davis to make it 5-1.

Celtics right-hander Liliana Ornelas retired the first two Vanguard batters in the top of the third inning, but things began to unravel as the Trinity Catholic defense committed two outfield errors and one infield miscue. A walk and a wild pitch allowed another run to score to tie the game at 5.

Libby clubbed a solo home run over the left-center field fence off reliever Kaylee Myers in the bottom of the fourth inning to give the Celtics a 6-5 lead.

Vanguard answered in the top of the fifth inning by scoring four runs, with Davis’ two-run single the key hit of the frame. Another hit and an error allowed two more runs to score to give the Knights’ a 9-6 lead.

Trinity Catholic, which had nine hits, kept battling and took advantage of three walks and an error to plate a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to pull closer at 9-8.

Vanguard, which banged out nine hits, scored three runs in the top of the sixth inning off reliever Libby to take a 12-8 lead.

The Knights moved Davis back to pitcher in relief of Myers. The hard-throwing sophomore right-hander kept Trinity Catholic off the scoreboard the final two innings to seal the win and earn the save.

Coach Vance dedicated the victory to Allen Sapp, a good friend who passed away on Thursday.

Both teams will begin play in their respective district tournaments next week.

Vanguard, the Number 2 seed, hosts Tavares on Tuesday night in the opening round of the Class 4A-District 7 tournament.

“We’re looking forward to playing in the district tournament and going all the way,” coach Vance said.

Trinity Catholic, the second seed, is hosting the Class 3A-District 5 tournament that begins on Tuesday. The Celtics will take on Dunnellon in a district quarterfinal.

“We have the ability to win the district tournament,” coach Duffy said. “We can play with anybody, we just can’t have these mistakes and mental break downs.”

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