Prep softball: Freedom reaches 7A-District 9 final
Freedom avenged last year's elimination loss to Steinbrenner with a 2-1 victory in the Class 7A-District 9 semifinals Wednesday, giving the Patriots their first region berth in program history.
The Patriots will face Chamberlain, an 11-1 winner over Gaither in the earlier semifinal game, in the district championship tonight at 7 at Freedom.
Freedom (18-2) scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, the first on an error and the eventual game-winning run on an RBI single from Maddy Hall to score Rachel Carlson. Junior Ashley Wilson scored the game-tying run from third base on an overthrow to first on Carlson's at-bat.
With the lead in hand, senior Katlin Hall relieved Grace Street in the top of the sixth and earned the save. Steinbrenner had a hit to start the seventh inning, but following a pop fly, Hall collected back-to-back strikeouts to end the game.
Paige Cimino hit an RBI single to score Alia Serafini in the fifth inning to give Steinbrenner a 1-0 lead.
The Chiefs, defending 7A state champions, scored six runs in the fifth inning to force the 10-run mercy rule. Chamberlain collected nine hits, three by third baseman Amber Fullwood, who also scored three runs.
The Chiefs (19-7) also capitalized on four Gaither errors and two passed balls. Senior pitcher Rachel Dwyer (13-6), who Wednesday signed with Division I Virginia, struck out four batters. - Nick WIlliams
5A-8: Gulf upsets top seed Zephyrhills ZEPHYRHILLS - Britney Pressler doubled and hit a grand slam, and Madison Morlan pitched a five-hit shutout as Gulf (13-13, 8-8) upended top-seeded Zephyrhills (20-6, 15-1) in the Class 5A-District 8 semifinals.
The game was scoreless until the fourth inning, when Pressler's bases-clearing blast highlighted a six-run outburst for the Buccaneers. Morlan was in control throughout the contest, striking out five and walking two.
With the win, Gulf will face Pasco for the title. The Pirates defeated Hudson 13-0 in five innings, via the mercy rule, in the other semifinal.
Pasco (17-10, 13-2), which lost its last three games of the regular season before advancing past Anclote in the quarterfinals, lit up the scoreboard early against the Cobras (11-17, 8-7).
The Pirates sent 14 players to the plate in the first and scored 10 runs, as the highest-scoring team in 5A-8 this season will advance to the final Friday.
Kelli Parker doubled twice and scored two runs, while tossing five scoreless innings for Pasco. - Kenny Sanders
6A-10: River Ridge, Mitchell meet in final LAND O' LAKES - It will be another classic district championship between Mitchell and River Ridge on Friday night. Mitchell was able to dispose of Tarpon Springs 11-1 in the early Class 6A-District 10 semifinal and River Ridge used a strong defensive effort to get by Land O' Lakes 4-0 Wednesday night at Sunlake High.
In the first game, Tarpon (7-11) held a 1-0 lead against Mitchell (19-5) through four innings. A Paige Davis double tied the game at 1 and Mitchell then scored eight unanswered runs in the sixth to seal the deal. Davis drove in three runs and Samantha Renzetti went 4-for-4.
River Ridge (25-1) went into the second semifinal as favorites against Land O' Lakes (9-12).
The Royal Knights were able to notch three runs off Gators' pitcher Shannon Saile in the third inning.
Land O' Lakes loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, but River Ridge pitcher Makenzie Goluba (seven strikeouts) was able to get out of the jam by striking out the next two. - Andy Villamarzo