Babe Ruth State Softball Tournaments: Palatka U-8, Melrose U-16 teams reach winners finals

Another day, another win for the Palatka 8-and-Under Babe Ruth All-Star softball team.

Playing down in the Diamond Divas division of the state tournament, Palatka defeated Chiefland, 12-2, in four innings on Friday at the Southside Complex in Lake City to advance to the winners bracket championship.

Palatka will face off at 2 p.m. Sunday against the Winter Springs Lightning with a chance to play for the overall championship at 10 a.m. Monday.

“It’s been pretty awesome if the girls end up going the whole way,” said the team’s manager, Brent Meyers. “I had someone call both my shortstop (Emma Hansford) and my third baseman (Hannah Faulkner) Hoover. I couldn’t understand why and then that person said, ‘They just pick everything up.’ Between those two, they made all the plays. We gave up two runs in the first inning and then the last three innings, only one runner got on base.”

Kiley Wilkinson delivered a solo inside-the-park home run in the second inning and Hannah Faulkner put up a two-run, inside-the-park homer in the third. The game ended via the 10-run mercy rule in the fourth when Paisley Meyers delivered a two-run single. Meyers was 2-for-3, while McKenna Clemmons, Tenley Wilkinson and Fualkner each went 2-for-2.

“This has been a team that’s been riding on its defense,” Brent Meyers said. “But we’re really starting to hit the ball now and we really hit it hard (Friday).”

As for what they’ll do on their day off, Meyers said, “We’re keeping everyone together in the hotel up (in Lake City) and we’ll have a small practice. Mostly, though, we’re just going to relax after that and come ready to play Sunday.”

In the 16-and-Under All-Star state tournament, Melrose continued its winning ways with a 6-4 victory over Keystone Heights in a rematch of the District 3 championship at the Francis Youth Complex on June 17. Daranae Donley went the distance again for Melrose, spurred by a four-run second inning that was highlighted by a two-run single by Dejah Williams. Donley walked one batter, allowed just two hits and struck out five.

“We were more defensive than we have been in the tournament,” Melrose manager Quintina Duggan said after her team’s latest win. “And because we’ve played Keystone Heights, we knew where to play them with certain batters. Getting that first win out of the way takes a little weight off us.”

Melrose will face off with West Volusia of Debary in today’s 10 a.m. winners bracket final after West Volusia tied the game with a run in the top of the seventh, then scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning to knock off Palatka, 6-5.

Elivia Gutierrez went 2-for-3 with two RBI, both runs brought in on a two-run, first-inning double. MaryBeth Wallace took the loss for Palatka, whch will face off at 10 a.m. against Keystone Heights in the losers bracket with the winner moving on to a 2 p.m. game against the loser of the West Volusia-Melrose game.