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Class 6A state semifinal: Bartow without manager pulls off comeback win over Doral Academy

Bartow overcomes head coach tossed, Doral Academy’s opening inning 2-run homer to score 2 runs in the bottom of the seventh to win
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CLERMONT, FLORIDA- On what was probably the nicest afternoon yet for the 2023 Florida softball state championship series, Bartow and Doral Academy gave fans likely one of the best games yet.

The two teams entered as teams within the SBLive Sports Florida Power 25 rankings and lived up to the billing. In the end, it would be the Yellow Jackets heading into the Class 6A state championship game. 

Bartow’s two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning proved to be the difference. Destiny Driskell drove home the go-ahead run as the Yellow Jackets defeated Firebirds 3-2 Friday afternoon at Legends Way Softball Complex in a 6A state semifinal. 

Yellow Jackets head coach Glenn Rutenbar was ejected in the top of the first inning due to a disagreement with umpires in regards to a call. No word from FHSAA officials on if Rutenbar would be allowed to coach in Saturday's state championship game against Pace, which is set for 12 p.m.

"First of all, I didn't have to do too much," Bartow acting head coach Carl Howell said. "To me (Glenn Rutenbar) is the best coach in the state of Florida. (The girls ) been taught to fight adversity. There was some close plays, calls that we might not have been entirely in agreement with. They handled it. I didn't call a pitch. The catcher started calling the pitches and she usually calls the pitches."

The opening inning featured plenty of excitement as Doral Academy sophomore Sarah Breaux check swung on a pitch, which Rutenbar then argued to no avail. The following offering, Breuax  accepted and hit a 2-run home run, which drew Rutenbar from the bench area to argue with umpires and was then subsequently ejected from the contest. 

Armed with a 2-0 lead and Bartow (28-3) without its manager, things looked good for the Firebirds (24-5-1) forecast wise for the rest of the game. Bartow wouldn't back down against Doral Academy starting pitcher Yessenia Lopez, who entered the game with a record of 19-5 on the season. Lopez ended the game yielding seven hits against the Yellow Jackets. 

In the bottom of the fourth inning is when the Yellow Jackets were able to get to Lopez, as they got a run across the plate on a sacrifice fly to right field by Katelynn Oxley, who ended the afternoon with a game-high 18 strikeouts and only allowing three hits. 

What ended up becoming the real excitement was the bottom of the seventh inning for Bartow as they were down to its final three outs against Lopez. After Alyssa Hillman reached base, the Yellow Jackets (28-3) were able to tie things up at 2-2 when Kynley Quartermaine tripled to left field. With a runner on third, it led to Driskell hitting a pop single to center and Quartermaine scoring the game-winning run. 

"Our schedule prepares us for this," Doral Academy head coach Willie Viruet said after the loss. "We play a really, really tough schedule. Like day in and day out, we try to play the best and we try to travel to play the best. Playing against a pitcher like (Katelynn Oxley) is the moments we enjoy." 

Andy Villamarzo can be reached at and follow him on Twitter @Andy_Villamarzo.