Auburndale's Softball Playoff Run Ends in Class 5A State Semifinals
Tue. May 08, 2012 at 12:04 p.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
Auburndale's Meghan Lindell connects for a home run during Auburndale's Class 5A state semifinal game Tuesday morning. (Photo by Rick Runion | The Ledger)
By MIKE COBB
CLERMONT | Falling behind early hasn't always been a big deal for Auburndale's softball team. Throughout the season, the Bloodhounds have relied on their bats to rally from deficits on their way to the Class 5A state semifinals.
But Tuesday morning, they couldn't quite make up an early 6-0 deficit as they lost to Plantation American Heritage 11-6, ending an emotional two week-run through the Class 5A playoffs.
To get to the FHSAA state tournament, Auburndale had to play through the emotional death of 21-month-old Brady Hutto, younger brother of freshman pitcher Brooke Hutto, in a parking-lot accident two hours before their scheduled regional semifinal game at Titusville on April 27. That game was postponed until April 30. The Bloodhounds won that game and two days later beat Dunedin 12-2 to get to the state semifinals.
"I couldn't be any prouder of the girls, the way they played together the whole season, not even taking into account the experience they had here at the end," Auburndale coach Mike Littles said. "That was something that — they've always been a close team, but that really, really brought them together. They always will be (close)."
American Heritage took a 6-0 lead in the top of the first on four hits, two walks and an error, and eventually built that lead to 9-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth.
"I think if we could've taken the first inning away, we would've won the game," Brooke Hutto said. "We made a couple of errors that hurt us."
For the day, the Patriots had 12 hits, although six of their 11 runs were unearned as the result of three Auburndale errors. Through it all, Littles said he was staying with Hutto.
"It's been a really emotional ride for her, and you have to remember, she's a freshman, too," Littles said. "There were a few jitters in the beginning, but I knew she'd work through it. After she calmed down, they didn't do a lot after that."
Even down 9-1 going into the bottom of the fifth Auburndale players still believed they had a chance.
"I don't think the (first inning) made us lose the game," shortstop Chandler Middlebrook said. "I think we do better when we kind of get kicked in the butt."
The Bloodhounds got it cranked up in the fifth and sixth innings with five runs on six hits.
Casey Grove, who was 3-for-4, started it with a lead-off single in the fifth, and Meghan Lindell added another single off of American Heritage starter Aimee Chapdeplaine, who came in with a 0.37 ERA and had allowed just seven earned runs all season. After a strikeout, American Heritage coach Marty Cooper decided to bring in Alyssa Enrique to relieve Chapdeplaine.
After a walk and a strikeout, Kelsee Cullop singled home one run, and another scored on a dropped pop-up by Patriots second baseman Dakota Villella to make it 9-3 with the bases loaded before Enrique got Deanna Littles to ground out.
After the Patriots scored one run in the sixth to make it 10-3, Middlebrook doubled to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Grove followed with a single and Meghan Lindell hit a three-run homer to center field to cut the lead to 10-6.
"Our coaches were like, ‘Just hit the ball.' I was like, ‘That's all I have to do, hit the ball,'?" Lindell said. "I think the home run boosted our confidence level. It was an accident, but it happened."
At that point, though, Cooper brought Chapdeplaine back in and she got out of the inning. Auburndale put runners on first and second with two out in the seventh but did not score.
"I was telling the girls (after the game) how proud I was," coach Mike Littles said. "They never gave up after being down 6-0. It's 9-1 and they're still battling to the end."
American Heritage 602 011 1 – 11 12 3
Auburndale 100 023 0 – 6 7 3
WP: Aimee Chapdeplaine (20-4). LP: Brooke Hutto (14-3). 2B: Chandler Middlebrook (A). HR: Meghan Lindell (A). Records: American Heritage 26-5, Auburndale (22-8).