Florida Team of the WeekThe current MaxPreps
, the softball squad from Tate (Cantonment)
, is led by five college-bound seniors.
But in order to win a state 7A title, it will likely lean on four other key ingredients: Movies, music, sleep and cards.
That's because the Aggies (24-3) got on a charter bus Thursday morning to travel more than 600 miles and nine hours to reach Vero Beach, site of the state softball championships.
They'll need all those ingredients to charge themselves for a semifinal showdown with defending 7A champions St. Thomas Aquinas (Fort Lauderdale)
Friday. If victorious, they will take on the winner of Harmony and Melbourne on Saturday.
Calling the Western tip of the Florida panhandle home, just 12 miles east of Alabama, Tate is used to long travel. Texas, California and Alaska have similar lengthy travel challenges, but softball coach Melinda Wyatt tries to keep her girls in long distance travel shape.
For the last seven years, during spring break, the Aggies traveled to Kissimmee, another nine-hour haul, to simulate the trip to the state tournament. They usually take three separate vans for that and rent condos. For this trip, they chartered a bus.
"We have a closely knit group so it should be fine," she said. "But girls are girls, and I always tell them don't bring any drama onto the field. We're good about that."
To break up the long haul on Thursday, the team stopped in Lake City and practiced for 90 minutes. They arrived in Vero Beach just before nightfall and now get ready for the defending champs.
"We don't need to miss any practice time," Wyatt said. "We need to stay sharp."
As far as Tate has to travel, it won't be the furthest at the state championships. Jay is 20 miles North of Tate and the Royals defeated Bell 14-8 in a 1A semifinal game Friday morning.
"It's a lot of driving and getting around," Wyatt said. "But it's all worth it when you get this far."