TAMPA — Gaither High head softball coach Jerry Murray said his team played a near-perfect game on Saturday.
It would be hard to disagree.
In an 8-0 win over Steinbrenner, the Cowboys were patient at the plate in drawing nine walks, had timely hits, played solid defense behind starter Sammi Grat, and when the moment came, they pounced on their opponent’s mistakes en route to winning the Class 7A-District 8 championship, the program’s first district title since 2010.
Gaither (16-5) hosts Plant City in Thursday’s region quarterfinals.
Sophomore catcher Elizabeth Mason, who is verbally committed to Florida State, made play after play, stealing home as well as scoring on a passed ball.
“Softball is a game of inches, so every run is important,” Mason said. “As many runs as we scored, they can score too, so extra runs are important.”
Behind the plate, Mason had consecutive putouts in the third inning, first throwing out a runner at second after a bunt and picking off a runner at first when she slipped trying to get back to the base.
“My shortstop and I have good communication so everyone was aware,” Mason said.
Sammy Gratt scattered five hits in the shutout, her fourth of the season, and improved to 11–1.
Bethany Kursch added a double and two RBI singles.
“The players played an exceptional game,” Murray said.
Steinbrenner (13-9) will travel to Durant in Thursday’s region quarterfinals.