Durant High wins 8A state softball championship
CLERMONT - Brooke Freeman went 3-for-4, including a two-run home run, to propel the Durant High softball team to an 8-2 victory against Miami Palmetto to win the Class 8A state softball title at the National Training Center Softball Complex late Monday night. The Cougars (24-4) had to wait until after midnight to celebrate their first state championship as play was stopped at 11:10 p.m. with Durant batting in the bottom of the sixth inning and leading, 7-2. After a 70-minute rain delay, the Cougars scored their final run. Davis, who had doubled before the rain, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a fielder's choice by Shannon Bell. Freeman's blast, only her second of the season, came in the fifth inning off Panthers starting pitcher Gabby Parker and increased the Cougars' lead to 6-2."This was pretty much the best night of my career," the sophomore first baseman said. "I've been struggling for the last month so I was glad I came around and did something good at the right time." Peyton Lewis followed Freeman's shot with a walk. Jordan LaFave singled and both runners moved up a base on an error. Nikki Giovenco then drove in Lewis with a single off the Palmetto pitcher's glove for a 7-2 lead. The bottom of the fourth proved to be decisive for the Cougars, who sent nine batters to the plate and scored three times to take a 4-2 lead. With two outs, Freeman, Lewis and LaFave had consecutive singles, the latter scoring Freeman to tie the score. Durant took the lead as Lewis scored when Giovenco reached on an error. Tidwell followed with another single - the fourth of the inning - to drive in LaFave. Durant fell behind early when Palmetto's Gabby Spallone sent a Paige Davis pitch far over the right-field fence, driving in Kelsey Bogaards, who had led off the game with a single. Davis struck out the next two batters to end the inning. The Cougars got one back in the bottom of the second as Alyssa Colding chopped a single over first base for a leadoff single. Davis walked and one out later, Freeman singled to load the bases. Lewis drew a two-out walk to score courtesy runner Melissa Mertely but Parker recorded her fifth strikeout to end the inning with the bases still loaded. Palmetto 200 000 0 - 2 5 4 Durant 010 331 x - 8 9 1 W - Davis (22-4). L - Parker (16-5). 2B- Davis (D). HR - Spallone (P); Freeman (D). Records - P 23-7, D 24-4.