The Lady Gators of Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School have certainly seen enough of Chiefland, thank you very much.

The Lady Gators of Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School have certainly seen enough of Chiefland, thank you very much.

Again, last week, Chiefland played the role of dream-smasher as the Wewahitchka softball team sought a state Class 1A championship.

This time it was in the semifinals after last season’s title-game loss; Chiefland lost 5-1 to Union County in the championship game, snapping a streak of three-straight state titles.

And, once again for Wewahitchka, it came down to one soul-dousing inning.

Entering the home half of the final inning, up 1-0 with Brianna Bailey, who had a perfect game through five, having retired 19 of 20 batters.

Two singles, a hit-batsman loaded the bases and a single down the left-field line drove in two and ended the game.

Two consecutive years the Lady Gators could legitimately say they were thisclose to toppling Chiefland; and two years in a row the Lady Gators can rightfully attest to being one of the top two or three teams in the state.

“Definitely a heartbreaker,” Wewahitchka coach Judith Husband said after the loss to Chiefland. “We played well, my pitcher had a perfect game until the sixth inning. We were on base more than they were. They just came out on top at the end.

“I felt we hit well, they just didn’t fall our way a couple of times. We were on base, we just didn’t capitalize and score enough runs.”

Gracie Price had a pair of hits and drove in Wewahitchka’s lone run in the third inning.

Bailey allowed just four hits

The frightening thing, or at least it should be frightening to the Class 1A opposition, is that this Wewahitchka team returns virtually intact next season.

But before moving forward, let us recap an amazing run for the softball program at the north end of the county, already in possession of two state titles and within two innings, six outs, of two others.

Over the past two seasons, Wewahitchka has won 43 while losing 11 and tying one game.

This past season, they lost just one game to a Class 1A team before meeting Chiefland last week.

In last season’s final four, they overcame a weather delay and extra innings in the semifinals to, later in the same afternoon, play Chiefland close in every inning but one.

This season, they overcame a slow start, their so-so record a product of a brutal early schedule, to catch fire down the stretch.

Chiefland’s two runs last week doubled the number of runs Wewahitchka has allowed in this year’s playoffs.

In the five playoff games prior to Chiefland, Bailey had tossed four shutouts, allowing one run while Wewahitchka scored 41.

Webster would define that as dominating.

The future certainly looks very bright for the red-and-white.

The Lady Gators have just three seniors, most prominently Cecily Hale and Jade McLemore, leaving this year’s squad.

Bailey is just a junior, as are crucial lineup pieces Naomi Parker and Anna Setterich.

Two of the top hitters this season, lead-off hitter Cyrina Madrid and clean-up hitter Price, are both, amazingly, freshmen, as are key cogs Aleah Wooten and Savannah Lister.

The Lady Gators received contributions this season from three seventh-graders.

They have now all been steeled by playoff runs, two in most cases, and heartbreaking results in consecutive state final fours.

From adversity, surely, comes resolve and the rest of the state Class 1A softball programs should be firmly on notice.

The Lady Gators are sure to be back.