American looks to face Gables with three standout senior players

Wednesday, April 4, 2018 0 Comments

American looks to face Gables with three standout senior players

There’s no love lost between American High and Coral Gables High’s softball teams. The Patriots and Cavaliers clashed in the regionals the past four years, but American got the short end of the stick last season and is hoping for a rematch.

 Though the post season doesn’t start until later this month, American players have reached a foregone conclusion that the two teams will meet again, and if so, the anticipated match-up places a lot of pressure on senior standouts, pitchers Ashley Alfonso, Erika Castroman and shortstop Tyenna Colon.

 “For us seniors, it’s nerve racking but it’s exciting for the other players,” said Castroman, who accepted an offer to attend Lynn University in the fall. “Our last high school game could be against Coral Gables.” 

 The Patriots (9-4), who are on pace to win their eighth consecutive district championship, have dominated most of their opponents during the regular season, winning by an average margin of 10 runs per game. Head coach David Fernandez said he has created a culture among his players to keep them focused on winning including a cultivating locker room and working hard in practice. He said the ambiance keeps his team together all season long. 

 “I’ve seen a lot of teams fall apart late in the season,” he said. “We’ve kept ourselves together through the culture.” 

 Fernandez said the loss against the Cavaliers was devastating, especially for the seniors. He watched tears streaming down the visages of some of his players, which broke his heart. 

 “As a man, it’s hard to show your true emotions but for the girls, they let it all out,” he said. “I felt we were the better team even though we lost. We just didn’t play up to our potential that day.” But on the other hand, he has seen tears of joy, the culmination of dedication to the sport and hard work. “I always said let’s best prepare ourselves to play the game at the highest level,” he said. “If you play without fear and give everything you got, you have no reason to live with regret.”

 Fernandez said the team is banking on Alfonso, an All- Dade player last season and leaning toward Miami-Dade College and the College of Central Florida. 

 “She remembers Coral Gables and a lot of pressure is on her shoulders,” Fernandez said. “She can take the team as far as it can go.” 

 But Alfonso, who is 6-1, also remembers Palmetto from last season. She pitched a near perfect game, as the Patriots bounced the then-top ranked team when the odds were stacked against them. The game was the impetus for her All-Dade performance throughout last season.

 “Palmetto said they would beat us but we proved them wrong and beat them,” she said. “That was the best game of my life.” 

 Alfonso, who won 14 games and recorded 137 strikeouts last season, acknowledged she is nervous during big games but her teammates help her relax to pitch a good game. 

 “They always have my back,” she said. “When I get nervous, they calm me down.” Colon, who earned All-State First Team honors in 2016 and plans to enroll at Southeastern Nova University, said they are ready for the post season, especially should American and Coral Gables cross paths again.

 “One team is going to end the other’s season,” she said.


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