BROOKSVILLE — Two of Pasco County’s three threats to reach the 16-team Leopard Slam III finals tonight at Tom Varn Park were torpedoed in Friday’s opening round.
Only River Ridge (15-1) concluded the first two rounds unscathed by defeating The Villages 9-0 and solving Belleview 10-2.
The Royal Knights, the tourney’s defending champion, face defending three-time 3A state champion Del Ray Beach-American Heritage in this morning’s semifinals.
Pasco County’s last remaining undefeated team, Mitchell, was upset 4-1 by upstart Inverness-Citrus.
After shocking the Mustangs, the Golden Hurricanes (14-3) knocked a second team from its unbeaten perch, beating Nature Coast Technical (13-1) with an RBI single by Kayla Quesenberry in the bottom of the seventh, 2-1.
Scott Bisbe’s Mustangs (14-1) rebounded in the second round by clobbering Fivay 12-1.
Fivay (8-5) dropped its tourney opener 4-0 to streaking Nature Coast Technical.
In the expected game of the day, Fivay senior right-hander Jill McElderry arrived with 119 strikeouts against 21 walks in 62 innings prior to facing the Sharks.
McElderry was clocked throwing as hard as 66 mph. Despite hurling her 10th complete game behind 13 strikeouts, one walk and two wild pitches, she was victimized by NCT’s two-run rallies in the first and sixth innings.
With one out in the opening frame, NCT junior Brianna Harvey stroked a liner down the right-field line that rolled to the wall for an inside-the-park homer.
Four pitches later, sophomore Chyloe Gonzalez tripled to left-center. With two outs, Gonzalez stole home.
In the sixth, Courtney David cracked an RBI triple to right-center before scoring on the Falcons’ game-high fourth error to make it 4-0.
NCT frosh Alyssa Gonzalez (4-0) handcuffed the Falcons, holding them to three singles and one walk in her third complete-game effort.