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East Lake outlasts Calvary in Montverde Academy Invitational thriller

East Lake C Sophia Cannon celebrates with 1B Maddie Bostak after scoring in Friday's semifinal at the Montverde Academy Invitational Softball Tournament.

MONTVERDE – It was a matchup Pinellas County softball fans had been waiting nearly six years for when East Lake and Calvary Christian met for the first time on the diamond since 2019 on Friday in the semifinals of the Montverde Academy Invitational Softball Tournament.


The matchup between our Pinellas County Preseason No. 1 and No. 2 teams was just how we expected – tight, with twists and turns throughout. East Lake used a three-run sixth to take a 9-6 win to advance to Saturday night’s championship game.


“It feels awesome,” East Lake shortstop Kayla Christensen said. “At the end of the day, we had nothing to lose. We went out there, fought, gave it our all. That was a team win. Everyone contributed.”


Calvary Christian started the game on top via a two-run triple from Cameron Power in the second, but the Eagles fought right back in the bottom half. Frankie Parkes scored on a wild pitch to get them on the board before eight-hole hitter Skylar Devin smoked a two-run single to bring in a pair, her second big knock of the day.


“I’m so proud of her,” Christensen said. “Fellow senior, this is her time to shine. She hasn’t always been the one to be in the spotlight, but this is her year.”


Alexis Camilleri hit a home run for Calvary Christian in the third to tie the game at three, which lasted about an inning and a half before East Lake took its second lead of the night. Christensen laced a double past future Georgia Southern teammate Payton Cushman in center to make it 5-3 after Maddie Bostak scored on an error as the go-ahead run.


Like a heavyweight fight, the Warriors picked themselves off the mat and responded with a punch of their own. NC State commit Morgen Talley sent a fly ball into the night sky for a two-run homer to left that tied it at 5-5, then Camilleri sent a second ball over the fence in the next at-bat to take the lead.


It was her first multi-home run night at the high school level – she’d have another first on Friday when Calvary Christian head coach Dion Weaver tabbed her to pitch the fifth inning in place of Katie Kapusta, who got the start for the Warriors.


With runners on, East Lake second baseman Karhys Pierce took home on a wild pitch to tie it at six before Christiansen would do the same in the next inning to take a 7-6 lead. An RBI single from Sophia Cannon that dropped in right gave way to Pierce scoring again on a ball that hit the backstop and the Eagles had the lead – and some cushion with the heart of the Calvary Christian lineup due up in the seventh.


“Big shoutout to Lucy Mondok,” Christensen said.


The Eagles’ ace – who was well over 225 pitches for the day after a complete game effort against Oakleaf in the first round – faced Irianis Garcia, Talley and Camilleri a fourth time and didn’t blink. She got three consecutive groundouts to finish Calvary Christian off to keep East Lake undefeated while punching their ticket to the championship game.


“She’s an awesome player,” Christensen said. “I know she was tired, but she’s a team player and she wants to do what’s best for this team, so she dug deep and did it for all of us.”

East Lake will face host Montverde Academy in the tournament's championship game on Saturday at 6:30 p.m., while Calvary Christian will face Oviedo in the tournament's third-place game, scheduled for 4:00 p.m.


Recaps from the first-round games:


East Lake 8, Oakleaf (Orange Park) 0


In their toughest task of the season thus far, East Lake proved dominant against a traditionally strong Oakleaf squad. Sophomore pitcher Lucy Mondok struck out five and twirled a one-hitter, while her offense came up clutch over and over again on Friday morning.


Georgia Southern signee Kayla Christensen led the game off with a four-pitch walk, as did Meagan Bostak. USF signee Karhys Pierce made the Knights pay with an RBI single, then Mondok brought in those two to put the Eagles up three before Oakleaf could get an out.


On the way to a 2-for-4, day, Christensen’s RBI single made it 4-0 in the fourth, then Pierce scored on an error in the fifth to extend the lead further. And just when it appeared East Lake was done, Bostak scored on an error before Skylar Devin’s two-run single closed the book on the Knights. Christensen, Pierce, Mondok, Devin and Anna Folger each had two of East Lake’s 12 hits in the victory.


Calvary Christian 1, Episcopal School of Jacksonville 0


With how Class 3A sets up, this could very well have been a preview of a state tournament matchup just a few miles away from where the FHSAA State Playoffs take place. Payton Cushman’s RBI double in the third was just enough for the Warriors to take a victory by the slimmest of margins on Friday in the second first-round matchup of the afternoon.


NC State commit Morgen Talley went pitch-for-pitch with Mercer signee Grace Jones and Talley would win the battle by tossing a complete game two-hitter, needing just 79 pitches to rack up ten strikeouts.


Julia Tamulski set up Calvary Christian’s lone run after a leadoff double that was dangerously close to being stranded after she took third on a sacrifice bunt. But leave it to Cushman, who took a 2-2 pitch from Jones deep to left, scoring the run easily.


Calvary loaded the bases immediately after and couldn’t get the big hit on 3-2 to add any insurance. The Warriors kept pressure on Episcopal School throughout the battle – they banged out six hits and had runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and seventh.


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