Father Lopez coach Trevor Berryhill wasn’t shocked when his team jumped out to a 4-0 lead over Masters in the 5-3A district semifinals. He wasn’t surprised when Masters responded, either, pounding out three runs of its own in the bottom of the fourth.
How the Green Wave handled that adversity — promptly adding three insurance runs to pull away for a 7-4 win — was the kicker.
“The team of the past would’ve just given up,” Berryhill said. “And we didn’t. That was really the first time all year where we had taken a punch, fallen, and gotten back up to start swinging.”
Lopez (10-14) graduated nine seniors last season and opened 2014 without a single returning starter on its roster. But after downing Lake Mary Prep, 8-1 in the district finals on April 25, the Green Wave seems to be peaking — and maturing — at the right time.
“We kind of found the right pieces,” Berryhill said. “A baseball team is a puzzle, especially when you have all the new people.”
The team has run with essentially the same nine position guys all season, but has made tweaks on-the-fly. In Lopez's regular-season finale — a loss to Bishop Snyder on Wednesday —Berryhill straight-swapped his corner infielders — moving Troy Naab to the hot corner and John Ostuw to first base. The switch has shored up Lopez’s defense throughout the district tournament run.
As a district winner, Lopez hosts First Academy (Orlando) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex. The Royals blanked Lopez, 11-0, on Feb. 21. One reason Berryhill scheduled First Academy during the regular season was to sneak a peak at a potential regional adversary.
“I’m excited for the battle Wednesday, because it’s a different team at Lopez than we were back in last week of February,” Berryhill said.
First Academy’s probable starter for the matchup is Foster Griffin — a southpaw Ole Miss recruit whose fastball touches the mid-90s. The Lopez line-up can’t let the obvious jump in velocity beat them before the first pitch.
“On paper, I’m sure there’s not that many people giving us a chance,” he said. “But you’re coming into our place, and we’re going to play the game with heart and play it the right way and see what happens.”