OKEECHOBEE — The Lady Brahmans softball team’s playoff run came to an end on May 17 when they came up short against Doral Academy 3-0 in the regional final held at Okeechobee High School.
It marks the end of a softball season that saw the Lady Brahmans win their second district championship in three years. Earlier in the year it felt improbable at best that Okeechobee would go on to make this deep of a playoff run during the season. The team opened the year with eight back-to-back losses, and appeared to be going through more of a rebuilding phase.
But as the season progressed the Lady Brahmans slowly started to build more confidence. And that confidence showed on the softball field.
The young Okeechobee team came into the district playoffs and steamrolled their competition beating Martin County and South Fork to claim the district title.
That would’ve been impressive on its own, but the Lady Brahmans followed that performance up with two dramatic, extra-inning wins in the regional playoffs to make it as far as the Okeechobee softball program had ever been in the tournament.
The Lady Brahmans were facing one of the toughest pitchers they had seen all year in Doral Academy Lady Firebird Alyssa Zabala. Zabala overpowered the Okeechobee batters for the first half of the game. The Lady Brahmans didn’t have their first hit of the game until the bottom of the third when Halle McDuffie laced a grounder into shallow left field.
OHS pitcher Haley Underhill faced Doral Academy batters who were patient at the plate. Every at-bat seemed to be an intense back and forth battle between Underhill and the Lady Firebird batters.
Doral Academy got on the board in the first inning 1-0. They’d increase that lead to 3-0 by the top of the fourth.
Towards the middle of the game it appeared the Lady Brahmans were starting to settle and find their rhythm. Underhill drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the fourth which Faith Vest followed up by laying down a perfect bunt to put OHS baserunners on first and second. But Doral’s Zabala stuck out the next Lady Brahman batters, stranding Underhill and Vest on base.
Vest was behind the plate in the catcher’s mask for the first time all year, filling in for Janel Aponte. She showed no rust, however, despite the big stage of the regional final. When a Lady Firebird attempted to steal second base in the top of the sixth, Vest quickly jumped up and threw out the speedy Doral runner.
Elle Thomas was able to blast a ball into deep center field that could’ve easily been a double, but the Doral outfielder was able to adjust and catch the ball to end the inning.
Overall, despite the Lady Brahman defense keeping the game close, the Doral pitching was just too much to overcome.
Still, the future looks bright for the Lady Brahman softball program.
If this is what they’re able to accomplish during a rebuilding year, it should be exciting to see what they can put together going into next year.