A strong outing from senior pitcher Landry Newgent, and clutch at-bats from Julia Sniffen and Lexi Scalzo, helped the Warriors advance to their third state final in as many years.
VERO BEACH For the third time in as many years, the West Orange Warriors will play in the final softball game of the year in Florida.
The Warriors (24-7) held on for a 2-1 win over Metro Conference peer Timber Creek in the FHSAA Class 9A State Semifinals Wednesday night at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach.
And it was a freshman who had the hit of the night for the girls in blue-and-orange.
Freshman shortstop Lexi Scalzo drove in what became the winning run for West Orange in the bottom of the sixth. Scalzo's two-out single up the middle created just enough time for Bryce Adkinson, who was pinch-running at second base for Julia Sniffen, to make it home safely.
“I was just thinking I needed to get it in play,” Scalzo said. “Bryce on second, and a base hit in the outfield, she’s scoring — she’s really fast."
From there, senior pitcher Landry Newgent did the rest in the top of the seventh. Newgent earned her second complete-game victory on the mound in her past two outings, allowing just three hits on the night.
“She does a really good job of just mixing it up,” head coach Todd LaNeave said. “And our defense behind her was pretty solid.”
Newgent had just one strikeout on the night but repeatedly got batters from Timber Creek to either ground out or pop out in big spots.
“That’s our game plan — I trust our defense so much,” Newgent said. “I just try to get the ground balls and fly-outs. I don’t try to get strikeouts and I trust my defense to get it done.”
Newgent was nearly matched inning-for-inning by her counterpart from Timber Creek. Wolves ace Lindsey Hendrix kept the Warriors off balance at the plate for most of the night. It wasn't until the bottom of the sixth inning, when Sniffen led off with a double to the gap in right-center, that a batter from West Orange earned more than a single.
Sniffen, a senior catcher, also drove in the Warriors' first run in the bottom of the first inning.
“That’s huge — Julia had a good night at the plate,” LaNeave said. “For Julia to get up there and get us going (in the sixth), that was huge."
With the win, the Warriors advance to the FHSAA Class 9A State Championship — the final game of the year in Florida.
West Orange will face Western at 2:05 p.m. Thursday.