TAMPA — Gaither High’s softball team couldn’t have peaked at a more opportune time.
Carrying a five-game win streak into Thursday’s district game against Steinbrenner, the Cowboys stymied one of the top teams in Hillsborough County with a 5-1 win against the visiting Warriors, taking sole possession of first place in Class 7A-District 8.
With two district games remaining on their regular-season schedule, the victory makes the Cowboys (12-3, 5-1) the favorite to enter the district tournament next month with the top seed.
“We play with a lot of spirit and we play with a lot of intentions on getting the job done,” said Gaither coach Jerry Murray. “We practice that way, so what you see out here is the way we practice.”
Sophomore third baseman Bethany Kursh continued her torrid hitting streak, going 2-for-3 with four RBIs. Kursh hit a two-run homer, her fourth home run of the season, in the first inning and added a two-run single in the third for a 4-0 lead.
Kursh hit a walk-off grand slam against Robinson last week.
“It’s really important (to take first place),” Kursh said. “I’ve been hitting well, and the whole team has been hitting well and hitting hard. Without my team, I don’t know where I’d be right now.”
Catcher Elizabeth Mason went 3-for-3 with two runs scored, and Sammi Grat (6-1) pitched a complete-game one-hitter and finished with five strikeouts, one walk, a hit batter and no earned runs.
Steinbrenner scored its lone run off an infield error in the top of the sixth inning.
“The nice thing about Sammi is that she’s got all kinds of pitches we can utilize with her,” Murray said. “When we have a batter come up to the plate, she’s going to hit her pitches and get the job done.”