By PATRICK CASEY
The South Walton Seahawks are District 1, Class 3A champions for the second consecutive season after a 4-1 victory over the Northview Chiefs in the district championship game that was held at Walton High School on Thursday.
South Walton first trailed 1-0 in the contest, but immediately took the lead in their first at-bat and they plated two runs in the bottom of the first inning. Pitcher Shelby Watson drove in her younger sister, MacKenzie, with a double, then scored on second baseman Isabelle Lara’s single for a 2-1 lead. The Seahawks stretched the lead to 3-1 in the third inning, then added another solo run in the fifth inning for the final margin of 4-1.
Northview touched Watson for two of their three hits in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead, but after that, Watson collected 12 strikeouts to take control of the game.
South Walton (19-6-1) got a pair of RBI singles from Lara to defeat the Chiefs for the third time this season. A fourth match-up is not impossible if Northview can travel to Bonifay to defeat Holmes County.
South Walton will host Chipley, a team they split with this season, but were defeated by in the second round of the state playoffs last year 3-0.
“It’s an awesome feeling to go back to back on the road at Pensacola Catholic and Walton the last two years,” head coach Phil Tisa said after the game. “District 2 has some good teams and we will have to beat both of them to move to the Region final. It will be a huge week for the program and we get the first one at home, so we will see what happens.”
A win by South Walton over Chipley on Tuesday (details were not available when the Herald went to press) would likely send the Seahawks to a Friday showdown with Holmes County in Bonifay at 7 p.m. The Bluedevils and Seahawks played to an eight-inning scoreless tie at South Walton with the Bluedevils capturing a 2-0 win in Bonifay.
A win over both Chipley and the Seahawks’ second round opponent could set up a Region final contest with Jacksonville Bolles, a perennial power in most sports on Tuesday, May 5.
South Walton got to the championship game after defeating host Walton 7-2 on Wednesday, in a game that was postponed a day due to heavy rain on Tuesday afternoon.
Watson drilled a pair of home runs in the win for the Seahawks while proclaiming after the contest that she wasn’t “in the zone” for most of the afternoon. Outside the zone was still good enough for 10 strikeouts of Walton batters, though Watson was touched for a two-run home run by Walton catcher Chelsea Hurley.
Walton managed five hits and left the bases loaded where a key hit could have made the game a much closer affair. “We didn’t get the hits we needed at the right time,” Walton coach Stan Bosenberg said after the game. “We got some, but we needed a few more. You don’t see many games on this field where three home runs are hit, but the way the wind was blowing out today, it happened.”
Walton senior Devin Richardson turned in a solid performance in her final game as the team’s pitcher, scattering 11 hits, but the Seahawks scored at least one run in five of their six innings at the plate.
Walton finished the year at 6-9. Contact Patrick Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org.