Lady Marlins come up short in the championship game, fall to Ruckel

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

After an unblemished regular season, the Destin Marlins had a few miscues in the championship game that ended in defeat, 8-3, to the Ruckel Rams of Niceville in the Okaloosa County Middle School Softball Tournament. 

“I think a lot of emotion went into this game,” said Destin Coach Kati O’Brian as she walked off the field in Destin Tuesday evening. “We knew coming out to this game it wasn’t a matter who the more talented team was … it was going to be who brought the right mentality to the game. 

The Destin Marlin softball team finished as runner-up in the Okaloosa County Middle School Softball Tournament. Destin lost 8-3 to Ruckel of Niceville. Destin finished the season 13-1-1.

“The girls played their hearts out. They had an impeccable season. They worked really hard all season long and blew a ton of teams out of the water,” O’Brian said. 

The Lady Marlins finished regular season play with a 12-0-1 record. They run-ruled Meigs, Pryor, Davidson, Shoal River and Bruner middle schools. 

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Destin beat Ruckel the first game of the season at home 5-2 and then tied them 8-8 in Niceville when the game was called when they ran out of daylight. 

But on Tuesday it came down to the final showdown between Destin and Ruckel and “who was going to bring the heat,” O’Brian said. 

“We did well, we executed well, we hit the ball,” she said, noting they didn’t have many strikeouts.  

Destin's Gretchen Kirby smacks a double in the first inning against the Ruckel Rams. Destin lost 8-3.

Destin had four hits for the game. Gretchen Kirby had a double, Anna Beyhl hit a bunt single, Anita Palmer singled and Annabelle Shackelford singled. 

“Unfortunately, we made errors on defense and it just ate us up. That was really what it came down to,” O’Brian said. 

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O’Brian said when she started coaching the Marlins in 2019, she told them that defense wins ball games and Tuesday was one of those games. 

Regardless of the outcome Tuesday, O’Brian couldn’t say enough good about the Marlins. 

“I’m so proud of them and what they have put into this season. They went unconquered the entire season and it just happened to be how it went … how the cookie crumbles,” she said. 

Destin's Anna Beyhl bunts the ball in the second inning for a hit. The Destin Marlins lost 8-3 in the championship game against Ruckel.

In the game, Destin got on the board first with three runs in the second inning, playing small ball. The Marlins took advantage of a couple of Ruckel errors and put the bunt down to push three runs across the plate. 

In the top of the third, Ruckel got two runs back on two hits. Audri Applewhite and Krissa Troutman each hit doubles. Destin still led 3-2. 

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Neither team scored in the third or fourth innings. 

In the fifth, Ruckel took the lead with two runs on three Destin errors. 

Destin hit the ball in the bottom half, but right at Rams players and failed to get a runner on base. 

Destin eighth grader Izzy Douglas went the distance for the Marlins. Destin lost 8-3 to the Ruckel Rams.

In the top of the sixth, Ruckel scored four runs on four hits, including a three-run homer by Troutman who took one over the centerfield fence. Ruckel led 8-3. 

The Marlins had two more turns at bat, but failed to get past first base. 

In the semi-finals on Monday, Destin put Meigs away 11-1 in five innings. 

Meigs scored their one and only run in the top of the first on a home-run shot by Mary Miller. 

Destin's Mykean Pope stands ready to make a play at first against the Ruckel Rams. Destin lost the championship game 8-3.

Destin put four on the board in the first on three hits. Kirby singled. Shelby Plaiser singled to left for two RBIs, and Mykean Pope doubled to center for an RBI. 

The Marlins scored two more in the second and one in the third and one in the fourth. 

In the fifth, Destin put the game away with three runs on four hits. Beyhl singled, Hannah Isham singled for an RBI, Palmer singled and Izzy Douglas doubled up the middle to drive in two runs for an 11-1 victory. 

Destin finished the season 13-1-1 with a runner-up trophy.