LUTZ — Somewhere down the line, Strawberry Crest softball coach Mindy Miltner suspects she’ll see Steinbrenner in an elimination state playoff game.
And though Thursday’s non-district game between Strawberry Crest and Steinbrenner won’t weigh on either team’s chances of making the postseason, it served as a possible preview of two programs pitted in Region 3 of Class 7A, one of the most competitive regions in the state.
The Chargers’ defense backed starting pitcher Sammy Tyler and, after a strong offensive start, rolled to an 8-1 victory.
“This was a great win,” Miltner said. “We came out, we ripped the ball, and hopefully this is a team we’ll see in regionals, so this was a big game for us.”
Tyler, who has signed with Saint Leo University, had seven strikeouts until being relieved midway through the fifth, while Steinbrenner left 11 runners on base.
“We have a lot of confidence in our defense and a lot of confidence in our pitching,” Miltner said.
Strawberry Crest (14-1), ranked fifth in the 7A state poll, led 4-1 after the second inning, highlighted by a two-run homer by senior Megan Reed that sailed over the left-field fence in the first.
Reed was set up for a grand slam in the third inning, but the ball was snagged off the wall by Steinbrenner’s Erin Knoeppel.
“If we get ahead in the first inning, we definitely play more relaxed throughout the whole game because we feel like there’s no pressure situation,” said Reed, who will play for Florida in the fall.
Sophomore Kasey Locke went 4-for-4, including a double, and Sarah Rowley scored two runs for the Chargers.
Freshman Nichole McClendon singled home Daniela Bautista in the first inning for the Warriors (6-3).
“We were coming off some really good wins and this is great momentum going into the second half of the season,” Miltner said.