Pembroke Pines Charter softball coach Tom Fadul, weary from a 3 a.m. wakeup call and a cross-country flight, still found time to make a Sunday declaration:
“I think we put Florida on map and put Pembroke Pines on the map,” Fadul said after his team won the Nike Faster to First Classic in Orange County, Calif. “All the hype was California this and California that, and it was kind of nice to go out there in their backyard and take it to ’em.”
That the Jaguars did. Pines Charter was the only team from east of Texas in the 26-team field – one that was as deep as the nearby Pacific Ocean.
StudentSportsSoftball.com, which is partnered with Rivals.com and produces national rankings, had 16 of the tournament’s teams in its preseason top 50. Pines Charter was No. 19 – well behind Sacramento’s Sheldon (No. 4), which the Jaguars beat 1-0 in the final.
The Jaguars (now 16-0, and sure to skyrocket in the rankings) also beat No. 12 Hart (Newhall, Calif.), No. 20 El Modena (Orange, Calif.), No. 39 Notre Dame (Belmont, Calif.) and unranked Wilson (Long Beach, Calif.) on their way to the title.
Fadul praised his team – especially his talented senior class – and the field, of which he said “everyone was deep in the lineup and every game was a game.” But he warned not to get too caught up in those rankings.
None looks better, at least on paper, than Pines Charter.
Behind the pitching of Audrey Broyles (who started three games and closed one) and Lauren Sewell (who started the other two), along with some timely hitting in the cold, windy weather, the Jaguars beat El Modena 2-0 Saturday afternoon and Sheldon 1-0 that evening.
Broyles earned the tournament’s MVP award, while Britanie Block, Brianna Chierico, Kandyce Redondo and Cassie Sigler were named to the all-tournament team.
The big picture, beyond what this means for Florida? First, there’s the obvious confidence boost.
But the real benefit: Getting five games of preparation – for the Kissimmee Klassic next month, then districts and state.
Fadul thinks the weekend win did just that.
“They’re very motivated,” he said of his players, “and they’ve got their eyes set on a better prize.”
Pines Charter 4, Hart 3 (Thursday); WP: Broyles
Pines Charter 6, Notre Dame 2 (Friday); WP: Sewell
Pines Charter 9, Wilson 3 (Friday); WP: Broyles
Pines Charter 2, El Modena 0 (Saturday); WP: Broyles
Pines Charter 1, Sheldon 0 (Saturday); WP: Sewell