The Viera Hawks are off to a rough start this season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re playing poor softball.
The Hawks took on a Lake Brantley team ranked No. 10 in the state overall and No. 5 in Class 7A Friday night and played the Patriots tough over 12 innings before falling 1-0 at the USSSA Space Coast Complex.
Viera pitcher Skylar Waggoner struck out 13 and allowed only four hits while also getting some solid play from her defense as the Hawks worked out of several jams against Lake Brantley (6-0).
Offensively, Viera (1-4) only had three hits – two by Hailey Mix, one by Sylvia Burroughs – but certainly had its chances to score. The Hawks just couldn’t get the big hit when they needed it.
Viera put two on with one out in the fourth inning, but couldn’t score. Mix lead off the bottom of the eighth with a double, but once again, Viera were stymied by Lake Brantley starter Hannah Marien, who went 10 innings before being replaced by Gabriella Mike.
The Hawks also put two on in the bottom of the 11th.
Lake Brantley, meanwhile, threatened with two on and two out in the top of the sixth only to have Waggoner get a big strike out on a 3-2 pitch.
After Viera got out of another jam in the top of the seventh, the Patriots had a big threat in the eighth after a lead-off walk was followed by a sacrifice bunt where the runner went all the way to third with one out.
However, a ground ball to Burroughs at second, followed by another Waggoner strikeout got the Hawks out of it.
Finally, in the top of the 12th, the Patriots were able to break through. After Waggoner thought she had strike three on a Lake Brantley batter, the ball was ripped down the third base line and went for a triple. Waggoner got a ground ball to Anna Brait at short, but on the throw to first, the runner took off and was safe at home.
Lake Brantley nearly made it 2-0 in that inning, but Hailey Rider made a great catch in center field for the third out.
Viera, which beat Palm Bay 20-2 for its only win of the season so far, will get a chance to regroup over spring break before coming back to host Rockledge (3/22) and Satellite (3/24) as it tries to get back to the team that went to the state semifinals last season.
“We are still struggling to find our identity this year,” Viera coach Alex Breeden said. “Some injuries early, combined with a tough schedule, has put us in a place where we’re 1-4.
“But confidence is a powerful thing. Once we make some adjustments and start getting our swagger back, I have all the confidence we're going to be peaking at the end of the year when it matters.”