Prep Softball: River Ridge tops Mitchell in region semifinals
NEW PORT RICHEY - In the fourth matchup of the season between the two teams, the River Ridge softball team used the same formula Tuesday against Mitchell as it did the previous three games: Just enough offense from the big hitters, and a steady dose of Makenzie Goluba fastballs. River Ridge defeated Mitchell 5-0 to advance to the Class 6A-Region 2 final Friday against Bradenton Lakewood Ranch. The Royal Knights got their bats going early. A Kenzi Maguire double scored a run, and after a walk put another River Ridge runner on base, Melissa Moore drove a ball off the left-field fence to drive in two runs to give River Ridge a 3-0 first-inning lead. Just two innings later, a solo home run by Morgan Tolle would push the lead to 4-0. On the mound, it was the usual consistency of Goluba that kept Mustangs hitters off balance. Goluba only registered two strikeouts, but she induced weak contact that her middle infield combo of Maguire (shortstop) and Tolle (second base) turned into easy outs. When Mitchell hit the ball hard, the Mustangs were foiled by diving catches by right fielder Brittany Furrise.
8A-2: Palm Harbor eliminates Durant
PALM HARBOR - It was the best scenario Durant could have hoped for. Trailing by a run in the top of the seventh inning with two outs in the region semifinals, the Cougars had two runners on base and their best performer of the day, Shannon Bell, was next at-bat. Bell, who was 3-for-3 at the plate, connected on an inside pitch, but it sailed high and landed in the glove of Palm Harbor University third baseman Mariah Connolly, sealing the Hurricanes' 1-0 victory and ending the Cougars' hopes of defending their state title. “We didn't adjust,” Durant coach Matt Carter said. “We practice and practice hard, but we didn't adjust. That girl threw a good game.” Rachel Taylor held Durant (20-9) scoreless through the first six innings and was relieved in the top of the seventh after pitching to two batters, one of whom she walked. Palm Harbor (25-4) scored the lone run of the game in the bottom of the six when Jess Adams hit a single to drive in Torey Scott. Senior pitcher Paige Davis had five strikeouts and allowed three hits in the loss. “It's really, really tough to win it back-to-back,” Carter said. “These are all of the big schools with a lot to choose from.”
7A-2: Plant City shut out by Lake Region
EAGLE LAKE - Plant City's postseason run ended with an 8-0 loss to Eagle Lake Lake Region in a region semifinal. The Raiders failed to carry momentum from their upset win against Bartow last week in the region quarterfinals, struggling from the start. “We just weren't the team we were last week,” Plant City coach Amanda Sawyer said. “A few costly errors and things in the field and a few really hard-hit balls by them and the runs just kept coming.” The Thunder scored a run in each of the first three innings before pulling away with three runs in the fourth inning. Lake Region pitcher Haley Wiseman was in control from the start, pitching a complete-game, four-hit shutout, striking out six batters. She didn't allow a Plant City runner to reach third base until the final inning. Plant City left fielder Nan Lawson was the only Raider with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 with two singles.
6A-3: Lakewood Ranch ousts Strawberry Crest
It was an uncharacteristic night for Strawberry Crest. The Chargers, who allowed 30 runs all season, lost to host Bradenton Lakewood Ranch, 5-1, in the region semifinals. In addition, Strawberry Crest, the third-ranked team in the Class 6A state poll, left 13 runners stranded on base. “We hit the ball well, just not at the right time,” Strawberry Crest coach Mindy Miltner said. Defensively, the Chargers (24-3) let a few balls slip through their fingers, including a game-changing error in the fifth inning that led to four runs for Lakewood Ranch (19-9-1). “They took advantage and got a couple of base hits and scored some more runs,” Miltner said. Strawberry Crest scored in the top of the seventh to avoid the shutout.
5A-2: Hernando stops Gulf
NEW PORT RICHEY - Brooksville Hernando scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning to edge Gulf 3-1 and advance to the region final. “The only difference is (Brooksville Hernando) made three plays that we didn't,” Gulf coach Rick Hohenthaner said. “Mis-pitch and Courtney (Riddle) hits a ball over our heads for two runs. Would we want that pitch back? Absolutely, but you have to give credit to Hernando.” A pitching duel seemed imminent, as Hernando's Riddle (four strikeouts) and Gulf's Madison Morlan (three strikeouts) both combined to allow just two hits through three innings. The Leopards (22-7) scored their first run on a squeeze play. Gulf (15-14) answered with a solo home run from catcher Nikki Sedivy to tie the game at 1. The decisive play of the game would be in the top of the sixth, with Gulf's outfield playing in, when Riddle doubled to left, driving home two runs.
7A-3: Weather halts Freedom-Chamberlain
TAMPA - The weather delay came a little too late for Chamberlain pitcher Rachel Dwyer as the Chiefs senior left a two-out, two-strike pitch up to Freedom's Katlin Hall and the senior sent a two-run homer out to left-center in the top of the first of the region semifinal. The Chiefs went quietly in their half of the first before rain and lightning forced the postponement of the game. The game will resume today at 4 p.m. at Chamberlain.
5A-3: Blake-Bayshore postponed by rain
TAMPA - The Class 5A-Region 3 semifinal between Bradenton Bayshore and Blake was postponed to today at 4 p.m due to weather. Blake was leading 3-1 in the bottom of the first inning with two runners on and one out when the game was delayed because of lightning. Bayshore allowed Blake to load the bases on consecutive walks and a hit-by-pitch. Alexie LaTorre hit a single to score Amanda Weathers, followed by another single from Taylor Purtell to drive in Marissa Hernandez. LaTorre scored the third run on an infield throwing error to third base. Marina Clark batted in Shara James in the top of the first inning to give Bayshore a 1-0 lead.
4A-3: Mulberry ousts Holy Names
MULBERRY - Erica Morrissey finally can rest. The Mulberry right-hander has had a bitter taste in her mouth since pitching a three-hitter in a region quarterfinal last season that ended in a loss at the Academy of the Holy Names. Morrissey tasted the sweetest of victories Tuesday in her final home game, a 12-6 triumph in a region semifinal rematch. “Revenge. I love it,” said the senior, her face lighting up. At the plate, Morrissey went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a triple and drove in three runs — and brilliant relief pitching. Morrissey took the ball from Panthers starter Shaila Warren with a 7-6 lead, a runner on third base and none out in the sixth inning. She escaped the jam with two infield pop-ups and a strikeout, then struck out all three Jaguars she faced in the seventh.
2A-1: AATL rallies for 3-2 victory
TAMPA - The Boynton sisters did their jobs. Sydney Boynton pitched well and hit a crucial sacrifice fly, while Skyler Boynton drove home the winning run as Academy at the Lakes had a 3-2 walk-off win against Deltona Trinity Christian in a region semifinal at Live Oak Little League Fields. “(Sydney) said to me, 'I did my job. Now go do yours,'” Skyler said. “I knew I had a 50-50 chance of getting a hit or getting thrown out. Luckily, I got a hit.” The Wildcats (10-5) found themselves in a 2-0 hole, but rallied in the sixth inning behind Sydney's sac fly and a fielder's choice groundout by Andrea Mauger that scored USF commit Lauren Evans. Sydney Boynton would quickly put away the Eagles (10-8) in the top of the seventh, while the Wildcats' first two batters would ground out just as quickly. However, Maria Aumaitre would double and bring up Skyler Boynton. “I really just wanted another at-bat because I was on twice and got left out there,” Skyler said. “I knew I hit it hard, it was just about getting on base. I knew if I got on base, we could score.” Skyler would single past a diving Eagles second baseman, and Aumaitre would score uncontested. The hit was Skyler's first walk-off hit of her high school career and the first for the Wildcats this season, as they advance to the region final for the second straight year. “Today, I just did my job,” Skyler said. “My job was to help us win.”