“State Champs” has become a familiar term at Academy at the Lakes this year. The Varsity Football Team won the FCAPPS State Championship in December, and on May 22nd our Varsity Softball team brought home Academy’s first FHSAA softball state title.
The road to the state championship was not an easy one.
After playing one of the toughest regular-season schedules in the state, the girls defeated district foe Canterbury to win their 6thDistrict Championship in the past seven seasons. They then faced Canterbury again on Tuesday, May 8 in the Regional Finals to decide who advanced to the State Final Four.
Academy had been in similar situations against Canterbury in the past, only to lose some heartbreaking games. This year they broke through with a resounding win that sent Academy to its second State Final Four in school history.
The girls were ready to go and bring home the state title the following week, but due to poor weather conditions, they had to wait a little bit longer. After a week-long delay, AATL faced off against Lake Worth Christian in the State Semi-Finals.
Academy jumped to an early lead and never looked back, defeating Lake Worth 15-0 on a fourth inning game-ending mercy rule.
Next up was the perennial powerhouse, Aucilla Christian.
Once again, the rains came and delayed the Championship game for an hour, and once started, the game was played during a constant rain which provided for sloppy field conditions.
From the outset, it was clear that the game would be a pitcher’s duel with Aucilla’s ace, Elizabeth Hightower (University of Florida commit) going against Academy phenom, Lexi Kilfoyl ’19 (University of Alabama commit). As expected, both pitchers turned in stellar performances, neither allowing a runner to advance past second base.
“These were two pitchers that we’ll be watching on TV in a couple of years as they play for their respective colleges. It was a pleasure to watch two phenomenal athletes go against each other. The entire AATL community is proud of our team and our coaches for having such a wonderful season. It’s one we’ll never forget!” said Tom Haslam, Academy’s Director of Athletics.
The game remained scoreless until the eleventh inning.
In the top of the 11th with two outs, AATL shortstop Brooke Blankenship ‘21, who had earlier made a game saving catch off an Aucilla line drive, singled sharply to center. Her hit was one of only eight combined hits by both teams.
Kilfoyl stepped up to the plate next and promptly nailed a line drive to centerfield. Aucilla’s center fielder dove to catch the ball, but wasn’t able to grab it, allowing the ball to get by her and Blankenship to score from first base.
Academy was up 1-0.
All that was now standing between them and the title were three more outs.
With the ball in Kilfoyl’s hands, the Academy defense took care of business and when Devyne Davis ‘21 caught a foul ball pop up to record the third out, it was over.
A raucous celebration followed and Academy at the Lakes had won their first FHSAA Championship in school history.
Congratulations to all of the girls and the coaches!