Softball: No. 1 Palm Beach Gardens escapes with 3-2 win over No. 3 Park Vista in eight innings
Friday, March 16, 2012
by Jeff Greer
Park Vista had the top-ranked team in the nation on the ropes Friday night, but Palm Beach Gardens merely staggered.
It's tough to put a heavyweight on the canvas, especially when key chances for a knockout blow are wasted.
Gardens, ranked No. 1 in ESPN's national high school softball poll, escaped Park Vista with a 3-2 win in eight innings in front of a buzzing crowd at West Boynton Park.
Gardens won ugly; Park Vista was left ruing its chances.
And while Gardens (13-0) was disappointed with its performance, starting pitcher Shelby Turnier said the Gators learned a valuable lesson.
"This is what champions are made of," said Turnier, who labored through six walks and two hit batters to get the win. "This was my worst game in high school, and our team's worst of the season. But we don't lay down to anyone."
Turnier, who has allowed three earned runs in 11 starts, pitched her way out of jams throughout the game, and Park Vista (11-4) just missed on a few key moments.
The Cobras stranded 12 base runners, loaded the bases twice and left seven runners in scoring position.
Emily Lochten, who played a marvelous game at shortstop, was 120 feet from being the winning run in the bottom of the seventh. But Park Vista left her stranded.
"We had our chances," Park Vista coach Chuck Layman said. "Hats off to them."
Gardens freshman Tiffany Lower, who has stormed onto the softball scene as one of the best young area players, smashed her second triple of the night with one out in the top of the eighth. Liz Spring's sacrifice fly scored Lower, and Turnier closed things down from there.
Lower was 3-for-4, including a double and an RBI. Her third-inning triple scored Ta'Coia Williams to start the scoring.
Sydney Jones singled in Sara Diskant to make it 2-0, but Vista clawed back to 2-2 with two sacrifice hits.
Jackson down played any speculation that the recent ascension to No. 1 in the national polls had anything to do with his team's performance.
"Our goal isn't to be national champion," he said. "We want to be (Class 8A) state champs, and we'll learn from this and get better."