Keystone Heights not letting rain dampen state title dreams

By Brian Jackson - Digital sports reporter

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, Fla. - Mother Nature often plays by her own set of rules. This week the Keystone Heights softball team has had to adjust their practice schedule due to consistent downpours in the area. The timing couldn’t be any worse. On Saturday the Indians will face West Nassau in the Class 5A Final Four.

“We have two batting cages that are covered and the baseball team was nice enough to let us go over there and get some swings in,” said Indians coach Jessica Marquart. Tuesday was the first time they’ve been forced to practice indoors all season long. 

The weather is just the latest obstacle in the way of Keystone’s pursuit of a state championship. Last Friday in the regional finals they trailed Hernando 2-1 heading into their last at bat. Bailey Story is one of eight seniors on this team and she stepped up with a huge two-run single that sealed the dramatic 3-2 come from behind win.

In route to the Final Four the Indians won three straight regional games on the road. That run may not have been possible if it weren’t for the struggles Keystone Heights overcame earlier in the season.
During a stretch from mid-March to the beginning of April they lost six of eight games.

“We definitely had a couple of lulls and weren’t playing together as a team,” said Story. “Towards the end we really rallied together. This is the most we’ve played as a team and for each other all year long. I think we’re playing the best we’ve ever played right now.”

Keystone Heights is one of three Clay County schools that has advanced to the Final Four.

Clay (17-11) will face Land O’ Lakes (24-6) in the Class 6A semifinals. In class 8A Oakleaf (29-2) squares off against Bradenton Lakewood Ranch (24-4). All three games will be played on Saturday at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach.

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