Tornadoes reach the postseason, fall in Class 5A regional semifinal

Posted on 16 May 2019 by LeslieM

By Gary Curreri

The Pompano Beach High School girls softball team made a return to the postseason with a dramatic 5-0 win over Cardinal Gibbons in the district semifinals that pushed the team into the postseason.

The Tornadoes finished the season 13-7 after it lost to Coral Springs Charter in the Class 5A regional semifinals. Coral Springs Charter (26-1), ranked No. 4 in the state by MaxPreps and No. 8 in the nation by Xcellent 25, won for the 25th straight game. The lone blemish was a 5-4 loss to Western in the second game of the season.

“They are a great hitting team,” said Pompano Beach coach John McGuire, whose team downed Lincoln Park Academy, 10-3, in the regional quarters to advance. “Coral Springs Charter are nationally ranked, so the bloop hits were even harder to defend and it was deflating. You just try to work through it.”

With the game out of reach in the second inning, McGuire called time and emptied his bench replacing his six seniors on the diamond for one last curtain call for their families.

“I wanted to give one last hurrah,” McGuire said. “It has been four long years and they deserve it. I try and do it every year if the game allows it for the parents to say goodbye.”

McGuire said the win over Cardinal Gibbons was the highlight of the season since it helped them reach their goal of the postseason.

“Every year, we seem to finish second in the district and our challenging game is Cardinal Gibbons,” McGuire said. “We win that game and we make it back to here (regional competition). It was a good feeling. It was 0-0 for a long time and then we scored one in the fifth and four in the sixth inning to win.”

“I am going to miss this quite a bit,” said Jeritza Montero, 18, of Ft. Lauderdale, who played all four seasons for the Tornadoes and was one of six seniors on the squad. “They are my family. They grew up being my family and friends.”

“Beating Cardinal Gibbons this year was probably the highlight of my career at the school,” added Montero, who is headed to the College of Central Florida.

“They are our rival and we wound up coming out on top. Last year, they knocked us out of the district tournament, and we came back for revenge and we got it.”

Teammate Sophia Akrouk, 18, of Coral Springs will miss the camaraderie of her friends.

“When I was 8, I started playing with Jeritza and now we are graduating together,” said Akrouk, who was taken back when McGuire emptied the bench. “I really didn’t think I would be so emotional, but it was a thing to remember. It was shocking, but I felt great giving the baton down to the next generation of players.”

Deerfield Beach’s Claire Finzel, 18, will continue her career at Keiser University and said she will always remember the emotion of beating Cardinal Gibbons to qualify for the postseason.

“I have never seen us act like that before after we won,” Finzel said. “This was probably my best year because there was never any drama this year. Usually, there is a little bit of drama each year; but, this year, we were all best friends and we have all just come together. This is my life basically, every day.

“I will miss the friendships I guess,” she continued. “These are my best friends. These are the people I hang out with. It is my softball family.”

McGuire said the team enjoyed being around each other.

“They played hard,” McGuire said. “Attitude and effort is what I preach. We are not a state champion caliber team. In those four years, we only have two going to college to play softball. We want them to have fun and enjoy high school ball.

“Our school only produces a couple of college players a year, but our GPA is probably higher than anyone else’s,” he said. “We have a 100 percent graduation rate. We will outsmart anybody. We are student-athletes in the truest sense.”

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