Original article by Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer
VERO BEACH —Academy at the Lakes waited two weeks to play in the Class 2A state softball tournament in hopes of winning what has been an elusive title.
The Wildcats completed the first task Monday, cruising to a mercy-rule win over Fort Pierce John Carroll that lasted just four innings.
That put Academy at the Lakes in the title game for the first time.
Once again, the Wildcats had to wait to be crowned champions thanks to the weather and a pair of powerful pitching performances in what became an epic duel in a marathon game.
In the 11th inning, AATL shortstop Brooke Blankenship singled with two outs, then came home on a single by Alexis Kilfoyl for what turned out to be the only run in a 1-0 victory over Aucilla Christian.
“The field conditions were lousy, but the teams were awesome,” AATL coach Diane Stephenson said. “One team just needed a break, and we got it.”
Rain fell intermittently at Vero Beach’s Historic Dodgertown on Tuesday, turning the fields into a quagmire. Umpires halted play six times to send the grounds crew out to rake and pour dirt in spots where puddles formed around the players’ feet.
Mud was smeared across the white pants of both teams. The wet and sloppy conditions made things tough for batters.
The struggles also had a lot to do with who was on the mound.
Kilfoyl, an Alabama commit, is ranked as the nation’s top pitching prospect in the class of 2019 by FloSoftball. Aucilla Christian’s Elizabeth Hightower is a Florida signee who led her team to state titles in two of the past three seasons.