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Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Academy at the Lakes in state softball semifinals

LAND O’ LAKES - The unthinkable turned unprecedented in Monday afternoon's Class 2A-Region 1 final between Quincy Munroe and Academy at the Lakes. Standing on one side was a team from the outskirts of Tallahassee and seemingly had all the confidence it needed from last season's 3-2 region final victory against AATL and already had a taste of reaching the state semifinals. On the other side of the spectrum was AATL, having never won a region final, nor advancing to the state semifinals. That's where the unbelievable occurred at Live Oak Park, as the Wildcats soundly defeated the Bobcats 9-4 and secured their first trip to the state's final four. The road to Vero Beach is now what lies ahead for this history-making club and coach Jerry English never would've believed his team would be at this point. “We have played well the past couple games,” English said. “Coach (Tom) Haslam has a sign in his office that says, ‘Culture doesn't change overnight.’ It’s a year-by-year process, and we’re hoping to get this culture of having a good program, good work ethics and practice hard.’
A driving force for the Wildcats (11-5) has been the stellar play of Sydney Boynton and Lauren Evans, both of whom have been vital to this two-year run of reaching back-to-back region finals. Boynton is 11-5 on the mound and struck out 108 batters this season, but is also a threat at the plate, batting .302 with 20 RBIs. Evans, a USF commit, has been the opposing team's worst enemy, and Munroe walked the infielder three times Monday. She also had a tremendous spring, batting .600 with 19 RBIs and 30 runs scored. The prospects of a state title coming within reach may have seemed unthinkable a few years ago, but the Wildcats are relishing the chance to turn heads at the state tourney. “The first practice we had last year I think we had about 11 kids come out,” English said. “We had 11 kids at the most the entire season. This year we had more. We had 14. So the program is building. Maybe next year we'll have 15 or more.”

Correspondent Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.

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