VERO BEACH, Fla. – It was a heartbreaking finish for the Ridgeview softball team.
Layla Taylor belted a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning as Sebring topped the Panthers 6-4 in the Class 6A state semifinals in Vero Beach.
The Panthers (22-9), who had never been past the second round of the state playoffs until this year, played like postseason veterans in their final four debut.
After watching their 3-1 lead dissolve after Sebring plated two in the bottom of the sixth, Ridgeview battled when the game went into extras. Natalie Foret led off the eighth with a single and Tatiana Illas reached on Sebring’s sixth error of the game.
A sacrifice and a walk loaded the bases for Raven Little, who hit the ball deep enough to center field to allow Foret to tag up from third and score for a 4-3 lead. But Sebring (26-2) came surging back, tying the game on a sac fly, putting another runner on and then getting Taylor’s homer to end it.
Brittany Michael struck out 10 for the Panthers.
It was all Ridgeview in the early going.
Hannah Foster provided the early insurance, roping a two-out line drive to centerfield that drove in a pair of runs in the second. Alyssa Adams belted a solo home run in the following inning and the Panthers took a quick 3-0 lead.
Sebring pushed its lone run across following a double in the bottom of the fourth and was mostly limited from open to close at the plate against Michael, who was sensational in the circle. She didn’t allow a hit until before that double by Alyssa Perez that came with two outs in the fourth.