A double play brought the Tiger Shark softball season to a sudden end on Monday, May 2 as Port St. Joe fell to the Bozeman Bucks 3-1 in the first round of the 1A District 4 playoffs at Shark Field.
Bozeman junior Piper Messick outdueled Shark eighth-grader Brooklyn Bishop, despite allowing nine St. Joe hits while striking out two and issuing no free passes.
In taking the loss, Bishop scattered seven Buck hits and walked seven, including three in the crucial fifth inning when Bozeman got on the board to take a 2-0 lead.
Leadoff batter Elli Newman and second baseman Addy Silcox led the Sharks with two hits each, with Lauren Brant, Maelynn Butler, and Maya Itzkovitz also getting singles.
Shortstop Kali Austerman scored St. Joe’s lone run in the sixth inning with her speed and heady baserunning.
With one out, she hit a smash that caromed off Bozeman third baseman Dakota Kilpatrick’s glove and trickled toward the fence. Austerman hustled to second for a double before the Bucks got the ball under control.
Tagging up on Bishop’s sacrifice fly to center field, Austerman sped home when the throw went over Kilpatrick’s head and rolled to the Bozeman dugout fence.
The Bucks got that run back in the seventh to reclaim their two-run lead, but the Tiger Sharks got the first two runners on in their final at bat, giving the home faithful more than a glimmer of hope with the top of the order coming to bat.
But the game came to a quick and unexpected end when with one out, Addy Creekmore hit a hard liner right at Kilpatrick who threw to second and doubled up the Shark runner for the final out of the game, with Erica Ramsey and Austerman poised to come to the plate.
With the win, Bozeman (9-8) faced Wewa on Tuesday at Shark Field. and fell 10-0.
St. Joe ended Coach Lissa Walker’s first season with a 15-10 record.
“I’m not so much disappointed, but more sad (that) the season is over,” said Walker. “I really loved coaching this group, even with all the ups and downs. (They) worked so hard, and were just a fun group to be around.”
“We started the season off with a few losses, but the girls hung in there and kept believing in what they were doing and what we were doing as a program, and they started to see the hard work paying off,” said Walker. “We accomplished so much this season that it’s hard to be too disappointed. This group learned how to win and (learned) what it took to win. As a coach, that is what you want to see – growth in every game, win or lose.”
“Last night, we were a few inches away from winning a district game against a good team, (but) the hits just didn’t fall our way. We fought to the last out of the game and gave it all we had, just fell short,” said Walker.
“As far as next season, we will still be young and still will need to mature in some areas, but I’m excited (about) the group coming back to play for the next few years,” she said. “I think the future is very bright for the Shark softball program.”
To add emphasis to Walker’s optimism about the future, last week SBLive Sports (Scorebook Live) named Austerman, a junior, as the #5 ranked shortstop in Florida.