Palatka Babe Ruth rolls to district championship
The Palatka Babe Ruth Under-12 softball all-star team picked up where it left off a year ago – dominating its way the District 5 championship this weekend at Little Rain Lake Park in Keystone Heights.
Palatka won the championship by overpowering its opponents by a score of 61-5.
“All of our hitters, one through nine in the lineup, were just hitting the ball,” said head coach Joel Allbritton. “And we got strong pitching from my daughter Molly, Madelyn Brown and Cenna Funk, plus our defense was pretty good all weekend long. We were at our best.”
Palatka opened up inauspiciously with Bradford, scoring four runs in the first inning of the first game against Molly Allbritton before her father relieved her without getting an out for Funk, who delivered three solid innings of shutout ball. Palatka got its bats going in a 19-4 victory in three innings.
From there, Palatka did not look back.
Palatka scored 12 runs in the first inning, then added 10 runs in the second in overpowering Gainesville, 22-1 as Brown got the win. In the winners’ bracket final, Allbritton came back to throw a four-inning perfect game with seven strikeouts, leading Palatka to a 10-0 win over Wrigley of Citra. Wrigley returned from the losers’ bracket to make the final, but lost by the same 10-0 score to Palatka behind a two-hitter from Allbritton on Sunday.
A number of players who were on last year’s district championship team played on this team, but unlike last year, there will be no state tournament at the Southside Complex in Lake City, according to Allbritton. The state tournament opens this year June 20.
“Unfortunately at that time of year, we have some people going out of town during the week of the state tournament,” Allbritton said. “We had some people who wanted to play in the state tournament and then others who were not going to be there so we decided not to go on. Plus after being together for almost a year, I think we needed a break.
“It’s kind of sad in a way we won’t be playing (state), but it’s not for me to question,” he continued. “My coaches, Jake Brown, Ken Giddens, Rhonda White, and I made the decision together and in the end, I’m good with it. It’s been a long season.”
Two other Palatka Babe Ruth all-star softball teams, both in the Under-10 division, were eliminated early from the district tournament.