The Gulf County schools softball and baseball teams finished the regular season and prepared for their district tournaments this week.
In Wewahitchka softball, playing their final three games against much larger schools, the Wewa Gators finished 17-5 overall and swept 1A District 4 with an unblemished 6-0 record.
On Saturday, April 23, the Gators fell to 6A Pace (20-4) 1-0 in a classic pitchers’ duel between Wewa’s Haley Guffey and Pace sophomore ace Jayden Heavener.
Pace pushed across its lone run in the fourth inning despite Guffey allowing only three hits and one walk while fanning 11.
Katie Shealy picked up Wewa’s lone hit against Heavener, who struck out 17 Gators while walking two. Wewa prevailed in its final two games, both at home, by identical 2-1 scores.
On Tuesday, April 26, Arnold’s Lily Cobb drove in Sage Mickey in the first inning for the 4A Marlins’ (19-6) only score. Mickey had Arnold’s only two hits during the game.
Wasting no time, Morgan Mayhann put the Gators ahead for good by driving in Shealy and Kylie Parker to give the Gators a 2-1 lead and the final runs of the game. Guffey secured the win with her 13 Ks.
The Thursday, April 28 contest against the Chiles (14-5) Timberwolves provided the most dramatic finish, as the Gators needed eight innings and a throwing error to walk away with a 2-1 win.
Wewa took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Laiken Ferrell drove in Ashley Thompson, who also swiped two bases during the game.
Chiles, who had defeated Wewa 1-0 on March 8, tied the score in the sixth inning, setting up the eighth inning heroics.
Standing on second base after her fourth stolen base of the night, Parker tagged up on Guffey’s foul popup, and raced home on an errant throw to give the Gators another emotional victory.
Continuing to keep her team in the game with her pitching, Guffey fanned 16 Timberwolves while allowing only four hits.
Savanna Mayhann and Shealy led the Gators with two hits, with Shealy adding a double. Ferrell, Thompson, and Parker each had singles to complete the seven-hit Wewa attack.
“Haley is coming into her own, and has gotten more confident as the season went on,” said Gator pitching coach J.D. Green. “She is starting to dominate.”
On Tuesday, May 3, Wewa will play the winner of Monday’s district play-in game between Port St. Joe and Bozeman. Port St. Joe is hosting the district tournament.
PSJ softball has been season in four years
Although the Tiger Sharks lost their final game of the season, the young team finished with a 15-9 record, the most wins for Port St. Joe since the 2018 season.
The week started on a positive note with a 16-0 home win against the Bethlehem Wildcats (10-7). Four runs in the first followed by three more in the second virtually secured the win, and nine more in the fourth ended the game at that point.
Addy Creekmore led the Tiger Shark offense with two hits and three runs, while Brooklyn Bishop and Maelynn Butler each drove in three runs. Butler added a triple, and Lauren Brant stroked a double for St. Joe.
Butler, Kali Austerman, Erica Ramsey, and Elli Newman scored two runs each. Bishop allowed only three Wildcat hits from the circle to gain another win.
On Thursday, April 28, North Bay Haven handed St. Joe an 8-5 loss despite the Tiger Sharks out hitting the Buccaneers, including Austerman’s two home runs.
The 3A Bucs, with a nine-game winning streak, spotted St. Joe four runs in the third inning only to come back with six of their own in the same frame.
They added a run in the fourth and one more in the sixth while the Tiger Sharks scored only once more, on Austerman’s second home run blast of the game.
In addition to Austerman’s two homers, Newman and Butler reached base twice with hits.
Although the game was “disappointing, we had some positives that we can build on,” said St. Joe coach Lissa Walker. “Brooklyn threw well, (but) defensively we couldn’t back her up in some key spots. Kali had two massive home runs, and we kept fighting. Just too many small mistakes that led to runs.
“As a defense, we need to learn to settle ourselves quicker and not try to do more than what is expected of us. We are definitely where we want to be going into districts,” she said. “Hopefully, we can take care of business Monday and move on from there.”
St. Joe will face Bozeman (8-8) on Monday, May 2, with the winner taking on Wewa the following night.
PSJ baseball goes 11-11
After starting the season by losing their first six games and seven of the first eight, Coach Ashley Summerlin’s baseball nine righted the ship and won 10 of their final 14 games to end the regular season with a record of 11-11.
Last week, the Tiger Sharks played three games on consecutive nights, winning the first two before falling to Freeport in the final contest.
On Monday, April 25, St. Joe scored three runs in the seventh inning to defeat Wewa 6-3 after starting the game down 2-0 after the first inning.
Jabara Pearson and Owen Grantland scored twice each for the Sharks, with Dakota Quinn and C.J. Thompson added the other St. Joe runs.
Caden Pruitt led the Sharks with two hits including a double, and teammates Pearson, Quinn, Carson Davis, Jordan Olson, Max Godwin, and Jack Trochessett contributed a hit each.
Godwin also swiped three bases, while Jentzen Odom stole two and Fisher Vandertulip added one. Odom picked up the win on the mound.
Wewa (3-17) got two runs from Zay McDaniel and a third from Sam Parker. McDaniel, Hayden McDaniel, Avery Davis, and Luke Hjort each had a hit for the Gators.
The following night, St. Joe spotted Liberty County a 2-1 lead before scoring six runs in the fifth inning on their way to a 7-2 win over the Bulldogs (6-16), who had handed the Sharks a 13-6 opening loss on February 22.
Prior to the opening pitch, St. Joe honored the four seniors on the team: Davis, Caden and Cameron Pruitt, and Quinn.
Giving up only three hits and two runs, Donovan Cumbie pitched six strong innings to earn the win before yielding to Hunter Hicks for the final three outs.
Although getting only four hits, 11 Sharks took their base on walks, and two others got on after being hit by pitches.
Odom’s double and two runs batted in led the way, with Trochessett, Cumbie, and Godwin picking up the other St. Joe hits.
Three games in three nights proved to be too much for the Sharks, as Freeport handed St. Joe a 7-2 loss in the final home game of the season on Wednesday, April 28.
Bulldog Henry Morris led off the game by smashing the second pitch off the right field fence for a triple, and later scored on a wild pitch. Freeport added another run in the first inning before doubling the lead on Caden Henderson’s two run smash the next inning.
Down six runs, Pearson’s double sent Cumbie home with the first Shark run in the sixth, but Freeport added a run in the seventh to keep its six run advantage.
Godwin’s sacrifice fly allowed Odom to score the final Shark run in the seventh just prior to the end of the game.
“Not our best effort. After playing six games in the (last 10 days), we’re tired. That’s no excuse, but that’s the way it is,” said Summerlin.
“When they jumped out to a 2-0 lead early and then added the home run, that put (us) in a hole and it’s hard to dig out of that,” said the Shark coach.But, with our body of work over the last 15 games, I’m proud to be 11-11 now. No one is sure of how the playoffs will work, but I am proud of the team and how the growth they have had,” said Summerlin.