The Holy Trinity Tigers had waited a long time to win their next district softball championship.
So, when the final out was made – on a pickoff throw to third base, no less – to clinch the Class 2A, District 7 championship with a 13-1 mercy-rule win over Merritt Island Christian on Thursday, there was plenty of joy to be had.
“So much excitement,” Holy Trinity senior shortstop Isabella Tomasura said. “Like, ‘Yes! Finally.’”
It’s the first district championship for the Tigers since 2003.
In the span of the two-game tournament, Holy Trinity (12-9) outscored its opponents 38-1. The Tigers allowed just four runs in seven games against district opponents during the regular season and playoffs.
“I expected we would win the game,” Holy Trinity coach John Clarson said. “I did want to win it big if we could to set the precedent against our next opponent. They now have to come in here and try to beat what we just did in the last two games. It’s going to be difficult for them to do that.”
That opponent will be District 8 runner-up Lakeland Christian (3-8), which is scheduled to come to Holy Trinity on Wednesday for a 5 p.m. regional quarterfinal matchup.
The Tigers will certainly be bringing some hot bats into the game.
Tomasura and senior Shea Dimmer both hit three-run homers to help Holy Trinity jump out to a big, early lead. Tomasura also had a double and finished with four RBIs. Likewise, Dimmer was 2-for-3 with four RBIs.
Freshman Cali Perillo went 3-for-3 and scored three runs. Eighth-grader Bebe Stockton had two hits and drove in two. Junior Hailey Hirter had an RBI double and eighth-grader Brooke Samuels delivered an RBI single. Junior Lauren Allison had a hit and scored twice.
Senior Claire Jackering, who homered in the district semifinal, also had an RBI.
Dimmer got the Tigers started with her three-run homer in the first inning. Tomasura’s home run came in the second. Holy Trinity then put the game away with a seven-run fourth inning.
“I told them we wanted to get out in front early,” Clarson said. “When your No. 3 batter hits the second pitch over the fence, that sets a precedent. And then the following inning, Bella comes up and does the same thing. That’s a nice jump on the opponent.”
On the mound, Dimmer allowed three hits while striking out three. Holy Trinity also got some strong play in the field with Perillo making a nice diving catch at third base while Jackering picked off a runner at third for the final out.
Merritt Island Christian (10-8), which did a nice job of putting the ball in play and played hard the entire game, had the bases loaded in the top of the third inning before Dimmer was able to get out of the threat with a strikeout on a drop ball with a 3-2 count.
“It was amazing,” Dimmer said. “We all came together. The defense was really great. I was feeling really good on the mound. I was throwing a lot of drop balls and that’s not a pitch I’m particularly confident in.
“Being in that situation, I had a 3-2 count with the bases loaded and I didn’t want to let a run score. Throwing that drop ball really made my heart sink, but I’m really proud of myself that I rose above it and got through my fear.”
After losing their first three games of the season with a roster made up of players ranging from grades 7-12, winning the district title shows just how far the Tigers have come.
“Progress,” Tomasura said. “A lot of progress. We started out the year with a losing record and then coming here and blowing them out of the water and proving ourselves makes me realize we’re ready for the next level.”
Winning the district title was always a goal for Holy Trinity. But this year’s team has its eyes on an even bigger prize.
“We’ve gotten so much better and I’m hoping we can make it to states,” Tomasura said. “I know we have regionals coming up and we’re going to take every game one at a time, but I really think we can get it.”
The competition is only going to get tougher the closer the Tigers get to that goal, but they believe a tough regular-season schedule has helped prepare them for the challenges that will come.
“Most definitely it did because 14 of our games were non-district games,” Dimmer said. “I don’t think we’ll face harder competition than what we have so far.
“I think we can take it to the final four for sure.”