BRANDON — Freshman Sloan Hammons threw a two-hit shutout Thursday, and Selena Bezares went 3-for-3 with three RBis as the Durant softball team beat Plant City 11-0 in the Class 7A-District 7 final.
Durant overcame a 6-4 district record en route to take the tournament title.
“Since our spring break, we have been making adjustments,” said Durant coach Matt Carter. “We told them if you are not doing something right, you have to make adjustments. It clicked.”
Hammons retired the last 12 batters, striking out three. Left fielder Morgan Slater’s diving, shoestring catch of a sinking fly ball in the second inning, may have sparked the Cougar defense.
7A-8: Steinbrenner, Gaither reach final
TAMPA — Gaither coach Jerry Murray said he’s strived all year to teach his team three things.
“We have to focus on intensity, focus on perseverance, and focus on the entire game,’’ Murray said after his team survived a scare to advance to the 5A-District 8 final with a 4-3 win against Wiregrass Ranch.
“That’s how we got this, but I could barely breathe at the end.’’
The Cowboys had a 4-0 lead and two outs in the seventh inning. Pitcher Sammi Grat was rolling along. Grat got strike three to end the game — or so it seemed. The ball rolled to the backstop and Kaitlynn Ridolph reached first. Two singles followed to load the bases, and all three scored on a long double by Samantha Hiley to make it 4-3. Grat got a groundout to end the game.
“I never really got nervous,’’ Grat said. “Even at the end I trusted our defense.’’
The Cowboys scored two in the first with RBI hits from Elizabeth Mason and Bethany Kursch, then padded the lead with a two-run double in the sixth by Carolyn O’Neal.
The Cowboys will take on Steinbrenner in the district final Saturday. Steinbrenner knocked off Freedom, 3-0, in the opening game. The Warriors took advantage of three sixth-inning errors by Freedom. The Warriors got only two hits, both by Erica Serafini.
Kellee Ramsey pitched for Steinbrenner and allowed only five hits, and was never in serious jeopardy. Her biggest concern was just getting some runs when it remained scoreless late in the game.
“I kind of saw this going extra innings,’’ Ramsey said. “I knew all along that I couldn’t let a run score but I had confidence we could get a run. It was just a matter of time.’’
5A-8: River Ridge to meet Dunedin for title
NEW PORT RICHEY — River Ridge and Dunedin advanced to the Class 5A-District 8 final today at 10 a.m. with victories.
Dunedin stopped Land O’ Lakes 4-3 and host River Ridge blanked Sunlake 6-0.
Dunedin (13-5) held a 4-1 lead heading into the top of the sixth inning, when Julia Watson scored on a double to center field by junior Morgan Home. Gators outfielder Sierra Holt came up next and singled home Sydney Grant to cut Dunedin’s lead to 4-3.
Dunedin pitcher Aubrey Ehlers closed the door on Land O’ Lakes (13-13), however, by striking out two of the four batters she faced in the seventh.
In the nightcap, River Ridge (24-3) got a dominating performance on the mound from junior pitcher Makenzie Goluba, who struck out five in the victory. River Ridge’s bats did just enough to give Goluba room to work with, as the Royal Knights only had four hits, including a solo home run from Kenzi Maguire.
“(Dunedin) is a good ballclub,” River Ridge coach Ernie Beck said. “We won the first meeting 1-0 and the second one we beat them pretty good. With both of us going on, it’s just a matter of who has the home game now.”
5A-9: Offense leads Robinson
TAMPA — Top-seeded Robinson (11-9) overcame a slow start by scoring 16 runs in its final two innings to win the Class 5A-District 9 title by mercy rule, 18-3, against Middleton in four innings.
Freshman Sam Conlan went 4-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs and was the winning pitcher, overcoming early control problems to allow just one hit in 31⁄3 innings.
Middleton (5-15) led 3-2 after two innings on two bases-loaded walks and a wild pitch. But Knights coach Ed Gallio expected his team to rally.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in these girls,” Gallio said. “I knew it wasn’t a matter of if, but when we’d come back.”
Robinson scored nine runs in the third and seven more in the fourth. Bart O’Connell
3A-7: Carrollwood Day defeats Seffner Chr.
ODESSA — Carrollwood Day needed just 80 minutes to repeat as district champs, as the Patriots made quick work of Seffner Christian to take the Class 3A-District 7 final, 4-1.
Carrollwood got on the board first when Emalee Jansen scored on a wild pitch in the first. Jansen also pitched a six-hit complete game and struck out four.
Sabrina Whiting hit an RBI single to score Megan Seifert to tie the game in the second, but in the third, Jansen would also drive home Emma Frost and Amanda Rose would drive home Jansen on an RBI groundout.
Rose added the fourth run with an RBI sacrifice fly in the fifth.