Softball: Jupiter stops Palm Beach Gardens again
Friday, April 27, 2012
by Jeff Greer
Gary Coronado / Palm Beach Post
Kylee Hanson didn't mind the crowd.
She didn't worry about all the buzz leading up to her Jupiter team's anticipated matchup with rival Palm Beach Gardens in the Class 8A regional semifinal.
Those calm nerves showed Friday night, as Hanson pitched a four-hitter and drove in the eventual winning run in Jupiter's dominant 4-0 win in front of a large and loud crowd.
It was the second time in as many weeks that Jupiter stunned Palm Beach Gardens, which for several weeks was the nation's top-ranked team by ESPN and MaxPreps, and both wins were emphatic. Jupiter routed Gardens 10-4 in the District 9-8A final last Thursday.
"We wanted this one, too," said Hanson, who struck out five and pitched her way out of several key moments. "I just told myself not to let down mentally. I knew it was a big game, but we've been playing really well as a team."
Jupiter (22-6) has won eight consecutive games, outscoring opponents 49-6 during the streak.
The Warriors smashed two doubles off Gardens' ace Shelby Turnier in the second inning, with Hanson's driving in Alex Arciola for the game's first run.
Then, Theresa Samstag slammed a pitch to center for an RBI double. Devin Williams' RBI single made it 3-0.
Jupiter never flinched defensively, and tacked on another in the fifth inning. The Warriors will play in their second regional final in program history Tuesday.
"These kids are so mentally tough," Jupiter coach Steve Ahern said. "They've worked so hard. They've had competitive, smart at-bats, and that has really showed late in the season."
It was a stunning and rapid demise for Gardens (26-3), which for a while appeared to be the clear-cut favorite to win the state title, which would've been the Gators' fifth in eight years. They outscored opponents 230-20 in the regular season, including a 14-1 rout of Jupiter, though Hanson didn't start that game.
But each time the Gators faced Hanson, it was a challenge.
"We just didn't get any timely hitting," Gardens coach Randy Jackson said. "They got those two timely hits that were huge, and we couldn't get anything going.
"But credit them, credit Kylee. Our kids played their guts out all year, we were just off in the playoffs, and when you face a pitcher like (Hanson), you have to be on your game."