High School Sports

Pirates shock Mustangs


- Following Thursday's game, the Braden River High softball team posed for pictures in front of the scoreboard in right field at Lakewood Ranch.

Problem was, the scoreboard was blank. The lights went out late in the game, but everyone in the park knew the score.

Don't think for a second the Pirates girls will ever forget it. Braden River 4, Lakewood Ranch 2.

The Pirates came back from an early 2-0 deficit to defeat Lakewood Ranch 4-2, scoring two runs in the final inning to secure the victory.

It was a historic victory for the second-year program with countless ties to Lakewood Ranch and its players.

Many of the girls grew up watching the Mustangs play. Many of the Pirates thought they, too, would be Mustangs - and some once were.

But old allegiances were forgotten when Braden River met Lakewood Ranch for the first time on the softball field Thursday.

Freshman Kaycee Wells knocked in go-ahead run in the seventh inning, scoring Jordan Ventriglia, a former Mustang.

"It's amazing because Lakewood is our rival," Wells said. "Honestly, it's not a district game, but it's good for us to say we beat our rivals. We have good friends over there on that team."

To call them rivals might be premature, but Thursday's game will surely go a long way toward creating a rivalry. After the last out was recorded, the Pirates charged out in the field to celebrate the upset.

"It means more that we beat a really good team and you have to give it to Lakewood Ranch because they are awesome," said Braden River coach Kaththea Smith. "My team has always had heart. They just sometimes have a trouble finding it. They found it (Thursday). They picked up and did great. I'm proud of them."

Lakewood Ranch scored a run in the first when Sarah Boyd singled and came around to score, then the Mustangs added a second tally when Kelsey Grabiak homered to straight away center field.

After that, Krista Wells settled in and held the Mustangs to one hit over the final four innings to earn the win.

"I'm really excited. I really wanted to win that game," said Wells, Kaycee's older sister and the most established player on the roster. "Everyone seems to be intimidated because it's Lakewood, and they were the team we needed to beat to get us where we need to be."

The Pirates rallied for two runs in the fourth that came as a result of four Mustangs errors. Lakewood Ranch made five errors, leading to three runs.

Often, Braden River looked like the veteran team while the Mustangs looked like the upstart program.

"We did the things that we talked about (not doing) on the first day of the season we got out here," Koczersut said. "Apparently, I've not done a good job covering it. We made errors, we didn't move base-runners when we had chances. I'll take full blame for it."

Braden River 000 200 2 - 4 5 2

Lakewood Ranch 101 000 0 - 2 5 5

WP - Krista Wells. LP - Ashley Hanewich. HR - Kelsey Grabiak (LR). Team records: Braden River 10-2, Lakewood Ranch 13-4.