Indians blank Raiders to reach region finals
GIBSONTON - East Bay softball coach Glenn Rodriguez knew if his batters could put the ball in play, it would force Plant City's infielders to make mistakes. His theory proved correct Friday as the Indians scored two runs off two errors to win 2-0 in the Class 5A-Region 2 semifinals. East Bay (21-7-1) will host Bartow in Tuesday's region final. In the bottom of the fourth inning, East Bay loaded the bases on a single, a fielder's choice and an error. Aliceson Holliday's ground ball was mishandled by the shortstop, allowing Christina Caisse to score from third. In the bottom of the fifth, Kiare Burrows scored from second on Plant City's third error of the game, another mishandled grounder.Senior Kayla Cox (15-1) allowed four hits and struck out seven for the win. Junior MacKenzie Audas (13-6) took the loss for Plant City (19-8) despite throwing a one-hitter with five strikeouts. "The last three times we've played them, they've won on errors," Raiders coach Heidi Kouveras said. "We knew it would be pitcher versus pitcher. Our goal was to wear (Cox) out." The Indians haven't been to the region final since 2001, when they advanced to the 4A state semifinals. "I can't believe it," said Cox, who worked out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the first inning. "I think we have the best defense and offense around. I think we can go far." Nick Williams 5A-REGION 3 TAMPA - By the time Sickles wrapped up its 13-0 win over Gaither in the Class 5A-Region 3 semifinals, anyone on the team could have said, "I'm going to Disney World." That's where the team was headed after getting revenge over Gaither, which beat the Gryphons in the district final last week. Friday was Grad Night at the Magic Kingdom, and Sickles coach Phil Giarrizzo said the team had a bus ready to roll to Disney as soon as his team won the five-inning, mercy-rule game. Sickles (24-5) scored three runs in the third, capped by an RBI single from Frances Franceschi. The Gryphons were helped by one of four errors in the game by the Cowboys (19-11). Sickles blew it open with five runs in the fifth, highlighted by Danielle Rowe's two-run single. Sickles' Chelsea Oglevie, who pitched a perfect game in Tuesday's quarterfinals, struck out four and allowed four hits. Prior to an infield hit by Shelby Heiser in the fourth inning, Oglevie had gone 13 innings without allowing a runner. "We talked about moving forward mentally," Oglevie said. "We know that Sickles and Gaither is a personal game because we are rivals, so when we lost to them last week, we decided to make it more personal." Giarrizzo said the key was to make his team forget it was playing its biggest rival and forget about last week. "I told them to go out and play them like we've never played them before," he said. "We just wanted to play them like they were anybody else, not a rival." Rowe and Courtney Goff each had three singles for the Gryphons, who play at East Lake in the region final Tuesday. Jeff Berlinicke 4A-REGION 3 NEW PORT RICHEY - Mitchell coach Scott Bisbe swore he threw close to 1,000 tennis balls at his batters over two days, preparing them for the off-speed pitches they would see Friday night. The Mustangs provided a salve for the coach's sore arm as they cranked out nine hits, including six consecutive in the sixth inning, and beat Zephyrhills 7-1 in the Class 4A-Region 3 semifinals. Mitchell will travel to Dunnellon, which beat Belleview 10-0, for Tuesday's region final. Heather Muccino started the scoring for Mitchell (22-3) in the second inning when her double to left-center scored Lydia Kinney. Three batters later, a fielding error allowed Muccino to score from second. In the fifth, Zephyrhills (20-9) cut its deficit in half when Lacey Cook launched a 3-2 pitch over the center-field wall. Muccino, who leads Mitchell with a .571 batting average, struck again in the sixth, lacing a triple into the right-field corner to score Kinney. "I always promise the first batters who get on before me that if they get on, I'm going to hit them around," Muccino said. "I do what I can to get them (in)." Courtney Radke then doubled to score Muccino, and Sara Brock doubled in pinch-runner Ashley Durett for a 5-1 lead. Two batters later, Cori Williams' triple scored Dearean Clifton and Jada Clemons. This is the first time in three attempts the Mustangs have won a region semifinal. Eddie Daniels 1A-REGION 2 BROOKSVILLE - Try as they might, the Seffner Christian Academy Crusaders could not solve the ultimate Riddle: Courtney Riddle. It didn't matter that for the second time in eight days, Hernando Christian Academy's flame-throwing, eighth-grade right-hander was under the weather. Riddle came into the game with a county-best 150 strikeouts over 113 innings, plus three wins this season over Seffner (11-11). Riddle didn't have her best stuff Friday but she threw crucial pitches in key spots and was backed by two terrific throws from the outfield in a 3-2 victory in the Class 1A-Region 2 semifinals. "A win's a win," HCA coach Ernie Chatman said. "Courtney wasn't feeling well. She didn't have her absolute best stuff, so she had to pitch today." HCA (20-4) advanced to the region final Tuesday at Ormond Beach Calvary Christian Academy. Center fielder and Briana Hogan and left fielder Heather Drummond each threw runners out at the plate. Tony Castro 1A-REGION 3 ST. PETERSBURG - Canterbury advanced to the Class 1A-Region 3 final with an 11-2 win over Academy at the Lakes. The Crusaders will play at West Palm Beach Berean Christian in Tuesday's region final. Chrissy Longstreet (10-5) got the win. She pitched the first four innings, then moved behind the plate for the final three. "I don't mind it at all. That's what we've done all year," Longstreet said. "I actually like catching." Longstreet hit a solo home run in a three-run third, which proved to be all the offense the Crusaders (20-7) would need. Academy at the Lakes coach Jack Shirling said the loss was tough but that his team will be better in the coming years. The victory marked Canterbury coach Jody Moore's 100th win. Lee Diekemper 2A-REGION 3 LAKELAND - Bishop McLaughlin's first trip to the postseason has come to an end. The Hurricanes (15-10) lost to Lakeland Christian 4-1 in the Class 2A-Region 3 semifinals.
Forecast: Drier pattern ending in Tampa Bay as front brings building rain chances throughout weekend
The Daystarter: What's next after Senate rejects Obamacare repeal; Bucs open training camp today; Comic Con invades Tampa; get ready for back to school