TAMPA — With two outs and runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday, Jefferson pitcher Nicole Lopez was up two strikes in the championship of the Class 6A-District 9 softball tournament.
After facing the No. 2-ranked team in the 6A state poll earlier this season, Lopez knew any member of the Chiefs was capable of hitting one out of the park. But Lopez, celebrating her 18th birthday, was confident in her curve and rise ball throughout the night, and on the final pitch, she tossed one to the outside corner.
Swing and a miss.
Final score: Jefferson 2, Chamberlain 1.
The win gave Jefferson the first district championship in program history.
“I knew that somehow I had to pull through it, and I’m thankful that my team was behind me ready to back me up,” Lopez said. “I knew they had my back. They told me from the start that they did.”
Jefferson took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth inning when Justine Fernandez blasted a two-run double, scoring Lopez and Kayla Fernandez. Lopez finished the game with six strikeouts and helped herself with two hits.
“They earned it,” said Jefferson coach Eve Suarez. “They work hard, they play hard and they came out today wanting it more. I think that made the difference in the game.”
6A-10: Mitchell outslugs Osceola
NEW PORT RICHEY — On nights when the Mitchell pitching isn’t up to its usual standard, coach Scott Bisbe looks to the top of his batting lineup to pull his team through. Thursday was one of those nights, and fortunately Kiera Delegro and Kassidy Neptune delivered for the Mustangs. Their offensive heroics enabled Mitchell to win the 6A-District 10 championship with a 13-7 victory against Osceola.
The way the game started, it looked like Mitchell wanted to make quick work of the Warriors. After two innings, the Mustangs led 7-0. Most of that was due to Neptune. In the first inning, she took a 1-0 fastball over the left-center field wall for a 2-0 lead. An inning later, after a Delegro double made it 5-0, Neptune showed her power again, when she sliced a line drive right inside the right-field foul pole.
Osceola pulled within 7-4, but Mitchell made it 9-4 on a Madison Staniloiu two-run homer. Kiera Delegro followed that with a walk, before stealing second and third and scoring on a throwing error to make it 10-4.
Neptune finished 3-for-4 with five RBIs. Delegro was equally efficient. In four plate appearances, she was on base all four times, with two doubles and two walks. She stole two bases, scored four runs and had two RBIs.
2A-7: Academy stops Cambridge Chr.
TAMPA — Academy at the Lakes seventh-grade pitcher Lexi Kilfoyl admitted she didn’t have her best game in a loss to Cambridge Christian a few weeks ago, the only regular-season meeting between the state-ranked teams.
Kilfoyl ensured a subpar performance would not repeat itself, striking out 12 in a one-hitter to lead the No. 4 state-ranked Wildcats to a 5-1 win against No. 3 Cambridge Christian in the Class 2A-District 7 tournament championship at West Tampa Little League.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Lancers had runners on first and second with two outs, but Kilfoyl (13-3) ended the game with her 12th strikeout, this time catching the batter looking on a high and inside fastball.
“I was just thinking, stay strong and fight through it to the very end,” she said.
Senior Rebbeca Hannah had three RBIs in the win, while Lauren Evans scored two runs along with a triple.
8A-7: Alonso tops Bloomingdale in 13
RIVERVIEW – Robin Kopp had worked a dozen seasons for it, so the Alonso coach patiently endured six extra innings and two rain delays for the first district softball title in school history.
Elly Pillers drove in four runs, including the winner in the 13th, lifting Alonso to a 7-6 triumph against top-seeded Bloomingdale in the Class 8A-District 7 championship game.
Fellow senior Kayla Maxwell had 12 strikeouts en route to a complete-game victory for the second-seeded Ravens, who split a pair of one-run games with the Bulls during the regular season. Bloomingdale ace Lace Smith also went the distance, striking out 21.
The Ravens (21-4) had two earlier opportunities to close it out. They went up 2-1 on an RBI single by Megan Wetzel in the seventh, but the Bulls (22-3) filled the bases and scored the tying run on a two-out error to force extra innings.
As playing conditions worsened in the ninth, Pillers hit a three-run double and later scored on an error to make it 6-2. Undaunted, the Bulls charged back with four runs of their own to extend the game deeper into the night.
“I knew we were going to have another opportunity to score,” Kopp said. “I wasn’t worried at all.”
Four innings later, Pillers stepped up in another bases-loaded situation and delivered Victoria Perri from third with a sacrifice fly.