It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
That’s what it’s all about in sports if teams want to find postseason success and Seminole is living that out in real time. The Warhawks lost their first two games of the season and fell to 3-8 at one point but that’s not the team that’s been showing up lately.
Seminole won its sixth in a row Saturday night at home, beating district rival East Lake 2-1 in eight innings. The victory sent the Warhawks into Wednesday’s Class 7A region final at home against Plant City. It’s the first time reaching the region finals since 2010 and another win puts Seminole in its third-ever state final four. The Warhawks won states in 2001 and lost in the state semis in 2004.
Unfortunately for East Lake, the Eagles’ season was a mirror opposite. After opening with 20 straight wins, East Lake stumbled at the end. The Eagles managed to take down Bradenton Lakewood Ranch in extra innings in the region quarterfinals, but Saturday’s defeat wrapped up a 4-4 finish to the season.
If Seminole can pull off another win Wednesday against a strong, 27-2 Plant City team, the Warhawks will head to Fort Myers to play either defending Class 8A state champion Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas or Hollywood McArthur.
Seminole is one of five Pinellas County programs representing the peninsula in region finals or state semifinals games this week.
Also hosting Wednesday will be one of Pinellas’ most experienced postseason programs in recent years. Dunedin traveled to Lake Wales last weekend and won 4-3 to advance to its fifth straight region finals. The Falcons (21-8) will host Cape Coral Mariner (25-4) Wednesday night and try to reach its second state final four in three years.
Different this year will be the location of Dunedin’s region finals matchup. Wednesday will mark the Falcons’ first region-finals home game since going on their impressive run. Waiting for the winner of Dunedin-Mariner will be either Jacksonville Paxon School for Advanced Studies (20-5) or Lynn Haven Mosley (24-3).
Pinellas County’s last state champion, Calvary Christian, is back in the state semis after a pair of convincing postseason wins, including Saturday’s 8-1 home victory over Orlando The First Academy. The Warriors (24-4) will be in Fort Myers Friday to play the team that denied them back-to-back Class 4A titles last year – Fort Lauderdale Calvary Christian Academy (25-4).
Both teams enter Friday night’s 7 p.m. state semi as a top 10 team in the state, according to MaxPreps.com. Another victory sets up Saturday night’s state championship game against Delray Beach American Heritage (28-2) or Jacksonville Trinity Christian (19-7).
Rounding out Pinellas’ postseason contenders still playing this week are Lakewood (Class 5A) and Osceola (Class 7A).
Lakewood (17-11) will host Melbourne Central Catholic (22-6) and Osceola (19-10) heads to defending Class 7A state champion Venice (23-6).