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Defending state champion American Heritage picks up where it left off

American Heritage’s Ahnie Jumper eyes the ball during an at-bat against Pembroke Pines Charter on March 16 in the Speedball Classic. American Heritage rallied for a 6-5 win. (Kevin Johnson photo)

PEMBROKE PINES — American Heritage-Plantation clawed its way out of a deep hole to edge Pembroke Pines Charter, 6-5, in an opening round game at the Speedball Classic softball tournament March 16 in Pembroke Pines.

Tournament host Pembroke Pines Charter built an early 5-0 lead at the Silver Lakes Park South complex, but defending state champion American Heritage, whose roster includes Seminoles’ Ahnie Jumper, Budha Jumper and Kiauna Martin, rallied with six unanswered runs in a battle of powerhouse programs.

American Heritage was ranked No. 3 overall in the state by Miracle Sports and No. 1 in Class 6A as of mid-March; Pembroke Pines Charter was ranked No. 4 in 7A.
“[Pembroke Pines Charter] had a lot to do with how we played. They played well,” said American Heritage coach Marty Cooper. “Would I have liked to see us play a little cleaner? I thought we could have played some better defense at times, and we ran ourselves out of an inning, but they were putting the pressure on the whole game.”

Trailing 5-4 in the final inning, American Heritage knotted the game when Martin, as a courtesy runner, scored from second base on a one-out single by Marley Felder. With two outs, Katherine Rodriguez’s walk-off double to deep left-center brought home the winning run for the Patriots.

Senior catcher Ahnie Jumper caught the entire game and drew one walk in two plate appearances.

“She’s been our No. 1 catcher. She’s our senior catcher, leader. She’s been back there probably 85 percent of the time,” Cooper said.

American Heritage followed up the victory against Pembroke Pines Charter with wins against Doral Academy and Monarch, but the Patriots had to settle for runner-up honors as they fell to Coral Springs Charter, 5-0, in the Classic’s championship game.
American Heritage, which had a 10-2 record as of the final week of March, has won seven state championships, including three in the past five years. Cooper said he’s trying to find the right mix as the team enters the final month of the regular season.

“We have a lot of talent on the team; we have a lot of depth,” Cooper said. “We have 18 kids. Right now we’re just trying to figure out who our top 10 or 12 are going to be. We have to give them opportunity to do that; we have to see them play.”

Cooper said he’s been pleased with the play of the Seminole players.

“They’re doing well,” he said. “Whenever they come in they produce; they do a nice job. I’m happy with their performance.”

American Heritage’s Kiauna Martin reaches second base safely as a throw from the outfield eludes Pembroke Pines Charter’s Isabella Devasa during the Speedball Classic on March 16. Martin scored the tying run in the Patriots’ 6-5 win. (Kevin Johnson photo)
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Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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