Next stop, Vero Beach! West Orange softball advances to state semifinal
Lauren Mathis struck out 13 while pitching a one-hitter and Lexie Blair drove in two runs as the Warriors topped host Spruce Creek 2-0.
| 11:15 p.m. April 29, 2016
PORT ORANGE The West Orange Warriors are going back to state.
Lauren Mathis pitched a complete-game shutout in the Class 9A, Region 1 Final April 29, pairing with a two-run single by Lexie Blair to give the Warriors (28-1) a 2-0 win over host Spruce Creek. With the win, West Orange secured a berth in the Class 9A State Semifinals May 6 at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach.
Mathis, the ace of the Warriors' staff, allowed just one hit on the night and struck out six of the last seven batters she faced — including the final out that sent West Orange back into the Final Four.
"That is her," head coach Todd LaNeave said. "What you saw tonight is, basically, how she's been rolling all year. She throws well and, as the game goes on, she throws even better."
While Mathis was near-perfect on the mound, it was Blair's big hit that helped breakup and otherwise near-perfect outing from Spruce Creek pitcher Ashley Appell. After a pair of errors and a hit results in bases loaded with one out in the top of the sixth, the sophomore standout came through with a clean single for one of the biggest hits of her young career.
"I'm not going to lie, I was really nervous," Blair said afterward with a smile. "I knew that I need to produce. ... There were a lot of things going through my head but I pulled through when I needed to."
With the win, the Warriors return to the state semifinals for the first time since 2013, when they were defeated by Cypress Bay, 3-0. From that 2013 season, only Jade Caraway and Kalie Romig — freshmen at the time — remain. As seniors now, the return trip is even sweeter.
"I just know how hard the process is to get there," Caraway said. "Our team this year, it just feels like it's never felt before. ... I love how close we are."