The Bishop Verot softball team’s big second inning on Tuesday night pushed it one giant step closer to achieving its ultimate goal.
The Vikings had six hits in the second inning that led to four runs and gave them a 4-1 victory over Delray Beach American Heritage in the Region 4A-3 championship game at the Sam Fleishman Regional Sports Complex.
The win earns Verot (19-8) its fourth region title in the last seven years.
Vikings coach Pablo Plaza has not been shy when asked about Verot’s lofty goals this season.
“Winning state has been the goal all season long,” Plaza said. “We have worked real hard to get here. Our pitching and hitting came through. I am so proud of them. We still have two to go.”
Verot will take on Jacksonville Trinity Christian in a Class 4A state semifinal game on May 4 at historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach.
Several Viking seniors were freshmen during Verot’s last trip to the state semifinals in 2013. The Vikings have not won a state semifinal game since 2004 when they finished as the Class 3A state runner-ups.
Senior Gillian Takais had two RBI in the second inning while sophomore Tayli Filla and junior pitcher Nicole Rodriguez each had an RBI apiece.
“Our approach was that we were going to get on base and go small ball,” Plaza said. “Everything fell into place (in the second inning). All of the puzzle pieces fit.”
Rodriguez struck out nine batters and allowed just three hits on the mound for the Vikings.
Rodriguez said those four early runs helped settle her in on the mound. She allowed just one hit after American Heritage scored its lone run — an unearned tally — in the third.
“We just click in the field,” Takais said of Bishop Verot’s team defense. “We just know what we’re doing. If someone gets a ball we know where they are going with it. We practice so much and we like each other so it makes it easy.”
Takais, Filla and sophomore Mallory Volz all were 2-for-3 for the Vikings.
The game was delayed in the fourth inning as some of the lights on the field did not come on. An adjacent field at the Sam Fleishman Regional Sports Complex was quickly prepared and the game continued after about a 15-minute delay.
“We weren’t going to let that effect us,” Plaza said of the delay.
Plaza said the Vikings’ recipe for success this season has been pitching, defense and timely hitting.
All three of those ingredients helped to push its fourth trip to state in school history Tuesday.
“We’re winning it all this time,” Takais said.