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HomeSportsSoftballLaviano and Hornets Come Back to Beat Bears in Quarterfinal

Laviano and Hornets Come Back to Beat Bears in Quarterfinal

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What a start to postseason play. When the first frame was finished, it was not looking good for Weeki Wachee (9-12). After an explosive top of the inning saw the visiting Central Bears (2-15) jump out to a massive 10-0 advantage, Hornets’ Senior Taylor Laviano and company got to work. They began chipping away at the Bears lead until late game heroics by the senior earned Coach Charlene Ross’ squad the district quarterfinal victory.

“That was a rough first inning, and honestly, they were really hitting the ball well,” said Coach Ross. “It was a rough start for sure. So, the fact that they came back, and [Central] did not score another run the whole game, that was excellent. [The Hornets] came back in there like the teams need to be. When one is a little off, the other one steps in, steps up, picks up, and they did that.”

Give credit to Central for the hot start. Bat after bat connected with the ball as seven different Bears made it across the plate on Monday. Freshman Ayva Frechette, Senior Kayla Reese, and Senior Jeslyn Hawk all scored a pair of runs while Freshman Payton Fox, Sophomore Jaida Childs, Sophomore Sha’neil Roundtree, and Junior Natalie Lechuga were all run home once.

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Once the game exited the top of the first, things did not go so well for the visitors. Weeki Wachee scored in four of the next five innings and Laviano (4 runs, 4 hits, 4 RBI, 3 HR) got the party started for the Hornets in the bottom of the first. With the first two batters caught or struck out, it almost looked like Central might retire three straight and come right back out on offense. Laviano would change that as she blasted her first of three homeruns of the evening easily past the fence.

“[Taylor] is a great player,” said Coach Ross. “She is a senior. This is her last game on this field, so it was special. She is just a great player. She signed to play in college and boy is she hitting. She is hot right now […] three over the fence. They were not just over the fence. They were rockets. If that fence had been a lot farther, they would have been over. She is just doing great […]”

While her homer was Weeki’s only score in the first, it was enough to build a little momentum heading into the second. That is when Junior Pitcher Jade Thompson took over. Brought in to stop the bleeding in the first with only one out and her team trailing 7-0, she did what she could to escape the inning.

While the Bears would score three more, she was only credited with allowing one run due to a pair of runner already being on base. That brings us to the second frame where, with two outs and two strikes on the board, Thompson delivered a nasty change up that surprised and struck out Senior Megan Watier. That was only the first as she would continue to befuddle Bears batters at critical moments throughout the night.

“Crazy,” Coach Ross called Thompson’s performance. “So, she has been working really hard with it. I think she has been reluctant to throw it. There has been a little confidence. We tell her you got to throw it to throw it. She sure threw it tonight. So, it was great. It worked a lot and as a hitter, that is the hardest thing you can hit anyway. You see that coming, ‘oh, please do not be a strike.’ And they were. That was great. She has been working hard on them and Jade was good.”

When the Green and Black stepped back up to the plate in the bottom of the second, Sophomores Alvalyn Crisp (1 run, 1 RBI) and Abi Pyle (2 runs, 3 hits, 1 RBI) both made it home thanks in large part to a wild pitch that allowed Crisp to score and put Pyle in position. Weeki would need to put points on the board a little faster than that to truly begin mounting a comeback, and that is just what happened in the bottom of the next inning.

With a runner on first, Laviano approached the plate and swiftly knocked a two-run bomb out of the park. Now, the scoreboard read 10-5. Later in the third, Junior Reegan Miller’s ground ball triple ran Pyle home again before a Thompson single aided two more across the plate. With the home team trailing 10-8, the home team was right back in it.

Laviano and Sophomore Hailey Tarner were run home shortly after in the bottom of the next inning and, suddenly, it was tied. That left Laviano to perform her magic and complete the hat trick. On the first at bat of the penultimate inning, Taylor Laviano stared down a rival pitcher for her final time at the Hornets nest and crushed the ball deep past the centerfield wall to give her team the lead for good.

“I think that for me, this game meant something special,” said Laviano. “It is my last game as a Hornet at home. Winning prom queen and coming off that high, I am glad that I got to continue it with three bombs in this game.”

Laviano is committed to play for Wesleyan College next year, but she is set to finish out the year with her squad starting with the Citrus Hurricanes on Tuesday. With an extremely talented opponent, her coach looks forward to the opportunity to face the Hurricanes that evening.

“They are super tough, said the Hornets’ coach. “They are a super good team. They are always a good team. We have to come out really strong and we have to have in our mind they are going to get some hits, so we are just going to have to come back and hit some more […] So, it is going to be a tough game, but I am looking forward to it.”

“I think that for me, this game meant something special,” said Laviano. “It is my last game as a Hornet at home. Winning prom queen and coming off that high, I am glad that I got to continue it with three bombs in this game.”

Weeki Wachee started Bre Slater against Central High in the 4A District 5 playoff game at Weeki Wachee High. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Weeki Wachee started Bre Slater against Central High in the 4A District 5 playoff game at Weeki Wachee High. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Weeki Wachee High’s Bre Slater winds into a delivery in the home 4A District 5 playoff game against Central High . Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Weeki Wachee High’s Bre Slater winds into a delivery in the home 4A District 5 playoff game against Central High . Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Weeki Wachee High’s catcher, Reagan Miller tries to put a tag on Central High’s Kaylee Reese ,23, as she scores in the 10 run first inning for the Bears in the 4A District 5 playoff game . Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Weeki Wachee High’s catcher, Reagan Miller tries to put a tag on Central High’s Kaylee Reese ,23, as she scores in the 10 run first inning for the Bears in the 4A District 5 playoff game . Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Weeki Wachee High’s ,16, Jade Thompson pitched 6 2/3 innings in relief, giving up just one earned run as the Hornets battled back for a 11-10 win in the 4A District 5 playoff game against Central High . Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Weeki Wachee High’s ,16, Jade Thompson pitched 6 2/3 innings in relief, giving up just one earned run as the Hornets battled back for a 11-10 win in the 4A District 5 playoff game against Central High . Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Central High’s ,30, Payton Cox pitched a delivers a pitch in the 4A District 5 playoff game against Weeki Wachee High. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Central High’s ,30, Payton Cox pitched a delivers a pitch in the 4A District 5 playoff game against Weeki Wachee High. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Weeki Wachee High Captain, 6, Taylor Laviano watches one of her three home runs against visiting Central High in the 4A District 5 playoff game . Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Weeki Wachee High Captain, 6, Taylor Laviano watches one of her three home runs against visiting Central High in the 4A District 5 playoff game . Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Central High’s left fielder Natalie Lachuga snares a sinking line drive during the 4A District 5 playoff game against Weeki Wachee High. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Central High’s left fielder Natalie Lachuga snares a sinking line drive during the 4A District 5 playoff game against Weeki Wachee High. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Weeki Wachee High shortstop, 6, Taylor Laviano puts the tag on Central High’s Sha’neil Roundtree on a steal attempt in the 4A District 5 playoff game . Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Weeki Wachee High shortstop, 6, Taylor Laviano puts the tag on Central High’s Sha’neil Roundtree on a steal attempt in the 4A District 5 playoff game . Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Central High’s shortstop, Alva Frechette make sure of a catch during the 4A District 5 playoff game against Weeki Wachee High. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Central High’s shortstop, Alva Frechette make sure of a catch during the 4A District 5 playoff game against Weeki Wachee High. Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Weeki Wachee High Captain, 6, Taylor Laviano jumps onto home plate before being met by her teammates after her third home run, which proved to be the winning run against visiting Central High in the 4A District 5 playoff game . Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]
Weeki Wachee High Captain, 6, Taylor Laviano jumps onto home plate before being met by her teammates after her third home run, which proved to be the winning run against visiting Central High in the 4A District 5 playoff game . Photo by [Joseph Dicristofalo]

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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