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High school softball: Trinity Christian cruises into state title game

Conquerors roll in 4A; Peniel, University Christian fall in openers

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Trinity Christian turned around a rough softball day for the First Coast in a hurry. 

The Conquerors jumped on Oxbridge Academy quickly and rolled to a 10-3 win in the Class 4A state semifinals in Vero Beach, reversing an 0-2 start for area teams in the final four. 

Trinity (20-6) will face defending champion Miami Westminster Christian for the state title on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.

Bailey Cooley fired a three-hitter and the Conquerors mashed out 19 hits, 12 of those coming off the bats of MacKenzie Marell, Natalia Burnsed, Breezy Burnett and Alexis Ross. 

For a program that hadn’t gone beyond the semifinal round before 2018, this marks back-to-back championship game appearances for the Conquerors. Trinity lost to Westminster 6-1 in last year’s title game. 

The Conquerors put three runs up in a hurry, getting an RBI single from Morgan McMillian in the first inning, and RBI doubles from Burnett and Burnsed in the second for a quick 3-0 lead.

Marell went 3 for 4 and drove in three runs, her last RBI putting the Conquerors up 10-0 in the top of the sixth and getting Trinity into position for the mercy rule before Oxbridge got on the board. Burnett drove in a team-best four runs. Cooley, and Linzie Lafavor added two hits apiece. 

Cooley was in control in the circle, going 4 2/3 innings before allowing a hit. By that time, Trinity was on cruise control and up 8-0. 

Outside of Trinity, it was a difficult day for area softball programs at the state semifinals. 

University Christian fell to defending state champion Admiral Farragut 7-2 in the Class 3A semifinal game, and Peniel Baptist managed just one hit in a 10-0 loss in five innings to Academy at the Lakes in the 2A game. 

For UC (20-5), Sophia Kardatzke struck out nine and was charged with just three runs in the circle. Nyah Morgan tripled and Jaleigh Harris added a double for UC. 

Rylee Romay had the lone hit for Peniel (22-5) against Academy at the Lakes ace Lexi Kilfoyl, an Alabama signee. She struck out nine. The Warriors were making their first trip to the state semifinals. 

Peniel, UC and Trinity were the first of six teams from the First Coast to play in Vero Beach this week.

Ridgeview plays Sebring on Thursday at 11:05 a.m. in the Class 6A semifinal. 

Creekside faces Fort Myers at 1:35 p.m. Thursday in 7A. 

Oakleaf faces Winter Springs at 4:05 p.m. on Thursday in the Class 8A semifinal.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.