The senior-less Wolverines defeated East River in the District 8A-10 Semifinals to earn an appearance in Thursday's district final — and a playoff berth in next week's regional quarterfinals.
The season for the first-year Windermere High softball team will not end with the conclusion of district tournaments this week — the senior-less Wolverines are going to the regional playoffs.
Windermere (15-11), the No. 3 seed in FHSAA Class 8A, District 10, defeated No. 2 seed East River 6-3 in the district semifinals April 24. The win advanced the Wolverines to tonight's district final — Windermere will take on No. 1 St. Cloud at 7 p.m. April 26 at St. Cloud.
It also earned the upstart program a berth in next week's regional playoffs.
"I think any time you take a first-year program, with no seniors, and extend your season — I think it’s big for any team," Windermere coach Eileen Hannigan said. "For these girls ... it just proves that they belong. They’re really setting the tone. I think it’s huge."
To earn its first playoff appearance, the Wolverines first had to defeat at team had bested them during the regular season — East River won a March 6 matchup 4-1. To do that, the girls for Windermere had to rise to the occasion, which they did in what Hannigan described as a total-team victory.
"The girls really trusted in what our game plan was for (the district semifinal)," Hannigan said. "I told them 'listen if you guys make these small adjustments right now, you’re going to win this game.' They played for each other yesterday and it was awesome."
Hannigan said nearly every player had a moment of contribution during the game against the Falcons.
In particular, though, freshman Holly Heath pitched a complete game for the Wolverines and Olivia Lovins drove in four runs, going 3-for-4 with two doubles.
Both players have been fixtures this spring for Windermere. Heath has been the team's go-to pitcher and Lovins has more than 30 RBIs on the season, according to Hannigan.
Whether the Wolverines win or lose against St. Cloud in the district final will determine whether they are on the road or at home in the FHSAA Class 8A Regional Quarterfinals May 2. Class 8A's District 10 aligns with District 9, meaning Windermere will play either Winter Springs or Hagerty — the two teams that will square off in that respective district final.