Brooke Blankenship, Academy at the LakesAcademy at the Lakes knew it would be difficult to manufacture runs during last week's anticipated matchup with Land O'Lakes and Gators ace Callie Turner.
So the Wildcats decided to steal a run.
This wasn't any heist. It took guts — and guile.
Blankenship, after measuring the leisurely exchange between Turner and her catcher, took off toward home in a tie game that had gone to extra innings. The freshman slid safely home, reaching her hand near the corner of the plate before the catcher could lunge forward and apply the tag.
It turned out to be the winning run in AATL's 3-2 victory.
"It was a big win, one we wanted real bad," Blankenship said.
The daring play invigorated the Wildcats, who won their ninth game against an area team ranked in the top 25 this season.
The challenging schedule was designed to prepare AATL for a run at the Class 2A state title.
Blankenship, who has already committed to FSU, has played well against tough teams.
She is hitting .432 with four homers and 14 RBIs.
The shortstop also has four stolen bases, none bigger than the one she had against the defending Class 6A state champion Gators.
Luca Tresh, Clearwater Central Catholic
The senior catcher has been one of the Marauders' top offensive players all season. He is hitting .418 with seven doubles and three home runs. But it wasn't his offense that helped CCC win the Dunedin Spring Tournament last week. He was praised by coach Todd Vaughan for the way he played behind the plate.
"He had some huge defensive plays for us," Vaughan said. "The leadership that he gives us is key. We ran out five pitchers in this tournament and he handled them all. He was a catcher in this tournament. He wasn't just playing catcher, he was a real catcher. We had guys who had more hits but I just thought Luca was our most valuable player."
Tresh was indeed named the MVP after a 5-4, nine-inning win over the Falcons in the final. He did have a hit and an RBI in the game. One of the biggest plays came in the fifth inning when Dunedin loaded the bases with no outs. Doug Terzigni caught a flyball in rightfield and threw to Tresh to get the runner at home. Tresh fielded the one-hopper and applied the tag for the second out.
"Even before this tournament I thought I've been playing pretty well," Tresh said. "I thought my bat could've been better, but I played good defense."
Tresh will certainly play a big role for the Marauders down the stretch. The Class 4A, District 4 tournament begins next week. The top team in the state, Calvary Christian, is the No. 1 seed in the tournament. CCC is the third seed behind Berkeley Prep.
If the Marauders want to advance to regionals, they will have to take down one of the top seeds.
"This (Dunedin tournament) is huge for our confidence," Tresh said. "We've got districts coming up and we needed something like this."]]>