Dirt covered the uniforms of many of the Navarre players, a sign of the gutsy effort they put forth in a postseason game they refused to go down in without a fight.
Sometimes effort simply isn’t enough, and for the Raiders, their dream of a District 2-7A tournament championship was dashed in a 3-2 loss to county rival Milton Thursday night in Navarre.
The outcome doesn’t surprise Navarre head coach Scott Murphy. It’s not that Murphy didn’t believe in his team. He had all of the confidence in the world they could get the job done and win a second consecutive district title.
But he also knew winning that title wasn’t going to be easy in a tournament that also featured Niceville and Crestview.
“We knew when we met in the summer (at a district meeting) that there were going to be four good teams in this district,” Murphy said. “Hats off to Milton. They got key hits and made key plays.”
The Panthers celebrated their district title on the field, hoisting the trophy into the air, while the Raiders walked off the field wearing looks of disappointment.
What the Raiders know, however, is that they have to shake off their disappointment quickly as they are still in the playoffs. They plate Tate at 7 p.m. Wednesday in a regional quarterfinal in Cantonment.
Cronin, whose white uniform was covered in dirt after he slid hard into home plate for the run that cut Milton’s advantage to 3-2 in the sixth inning, talked about his readiness to bounce back.
“It’s definitely a tough thing to deal with, but we are still in the playoffs,” Cronin said. “We have to forget about (the loss) and just go out and play and try to make a run at state.”
If any of the players did have any doubts lingering, they were extinguished quickly by senior Octavien Moyer, who saw his teammates sitting in the dugout dejected and provided words of inspiration.
“We have a championship to win,” Moyer said to his teammates in the dugout. “I don’t know what y’all are down about. This is district, not state.”
Read more in the April 28 edition of Navarre Press or subscribe online here.