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Hernando High

Hernando sweeps tourney

Hernando Today correspondent

Published:   |   Updated: April 15, 2014 at 04:27 PM

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CAPE CORAL - This weekend's precursor to the start of the fast-pitch softball state series was quite successful for the streaking Hernando Lady Leopards.

On Saturday evening, HHS completed a weekend sweep of three Lee County opponents during the two-day, eight-team Cape Coral and Mariner Softball Tournament II.

After traveling for nearly six hours and 350 round-trip miles on a chartered bus - courtesy of the Lady Leopard Booster Club - the Bell Avenue nine (23-2) returned home with its second piece of tournament hardware this season.

In three road games in less than 24 hours, HHS' mettle was tested more than once. The Lady Leopards responded by collecting 27 hits in 89 at-bats (.303 batting average).

At the plate, five Lady Leopards hit .400 or better in the Lee County event including: sophomore Lauren Moore (.500), senior Courtney Riddle (.455), and juniors Erika Lewis (.444), Megan Lane (.417) and Danielle Harvey (.400).

Moreover, what had served the Lady Leopards so effectively piling up 13 wins over its last 14 games before the tournament, continued to permeate in the Brooksville dugout. Defensively, HHS converted 99-of-103 chances for a sparkling .961 percentage.

On the hill, the right-handed Riddle was simply splendid.

Across three complete-game efforts and 23 innings pitched, the defending Hernando Today Player of the Year Riddle scattered 18 hits and six runs (four earned) while permitting one walk against 25 strikeouts. Opposing batters hit a collective 18-of-87 (.207).

HHS opened the event Friday night with a come-from-behind 5-3 win in nine innings against the tourney-host Cape Coral Lady Seahawks.

The Purple and Gold scored three runs in the second inning to grab the early lead.

All-County second sacker Summer Solovitch reached on an error and two batters later frosh Kaylee Frascatore coaxed a one-out walk.

Moore dropped down a gorgeous sacrifice bunt placing both runners in scoring position. Lewis followed with clutch two-out RBI single, 1-0.

Lane followed with a two-run single left-center, 3-0.

HHS missed a chance to tack on by leaving the bases loaded in the third when Moore grounded out.

Playing in a constant drizzle by the sixth inning, the Lady 'Hawks tied the game. Two bunt singles and a Lady Leopard error enabled the hosts to climb back into the game, 3-3.

Harvey led off the top of the seventh with a triple, but she was doubled up on a botched squeeze that the Lady Seahawks turned into a double play.

In the bottom of the seventh, Mallory Gerrero, who led the hosts with two hits, singled and stole second base, but was stranded when Kerry McLaughlin grounded out to third sacker Harvey.

Neither team threatened in the eighth.

In the ninth, Lane led off with her third hit before stealing second and third. She totaled four steals on the night).

While sliding into third base, catcher Cheyenne Krolczyk's attempted pickoff throw sailed down the left-field line allowing Lane to scamper home, 4-3.

Harvey coaxed a walk off Makenzie Buss (12-5). With one out, Riddle crushed a liner off the wet grass in left field that plated Harvey on an RBI triple.

In the bottom of the ninth, Ally Slaughter was plunked by a Riddle pitch. She immediately attempted to steal second, but was cut down on a perfect peg by the catcher Lane to shortstop Tana McDaniel.

Riddle then retired the next two batters to escape the upset bid.

Round 2

The Lady Leopards appeared listless and fatigued returning to Cape Coral's playing field early Saturday morning against Cape Coral-Ida Baker.

After rapping 10 hits against the Lady Seahawks, HHS managed only five singles in chaining the Lady Bulldogs (13-7), 5-1.

By increasing the tempo, HHS tallied three runs off Lacie Ellithorpe (11-7) in the third inning.

With one out, junior first sacker Darrian Hunter, batting .098, coaxed a key one-out free pass before Lewis followed with the first of her two hits.

As the speedy Lane legged out an infield single scoring Hunter, the relay throw skipped down the right-field line permitting Lewis to score. Harvey followed with an infield single plating Lane, 3-0.

Ida Baker countered with its run in the fourth as Kishelly Brown's fielder's choice plated Jada Young.

In the bottom of the fourth, HHS added two key insurance runs. Solovitch walked, junior Sierra Canon singled and Frascatore reached on an infield hit to load the sacks.

With one out, Lewis singled to left-center to plate Solovitch and Cannon.

Riddle did the rest retiring 12 of the last 13 batters she faced. After fanning nine against Cape Coral, she punched out eight Lady Bulldogs.

HHS' defense sparkled by converting all 30 chances it faced.

Ida Baker's first-year mentor Brooke Gates called the game a learning experience.

"We didn't communicate well," pointed out Coach Gates. "We got a little too excited. I didn't think we responded well when they began speeding up the game.

"It's a young team overall and we're still learning the game," added Gates. "Hernando is a solid team. It seems like they do everything well."

Lewis paced the visitors with a 2-for-3 effort with two RBI.

"Before my second at-bat, she (Ellithorpe) was throwing everything outside. All I was trying to do was make something happen," pointed out the 17-year-old Lewis. "I need to focus watching the ball coming in."

On the game's significance, "I'm glad we pulled through. It was a struggle," insisted Lewis. "I thought our defense played really well and Courtney always knows how to get us through tough spots."

Round 3

Lehigh Acres-Lehigh Senior reached the tourney final by blasting host Mariner, 17-3, before crushing Cape Coral-Island Coast in three innings, 15-0.

But against Riddle, the Lady Lightning (13-7) managed seven hits and two runs - led by an outstanding 3-for-4 effort by senior center fielder Krysten Topliff - before falling 8-2.

HHS pushed across two early runs in the first frame against freshman right-hander Jayda Valdez. (7-5).

With McDaniel aboard on a hit by pitch, Riddle singled. She was replaced by courtesy runner Nikki Patrick.

Solovitch grounded to third sacker Bella Quiles, who skipped the relay down the right-field line permitting two unearned runs to score. The miscue would be the Lady Lightning's only error in the game.

The Lady Lightning cut the deficit in half in the top of the fifth.

Topliff reached on an infield single and was doubled home by catcher Gabby Suanez.

Riddle quickly extinguished the rally by fanning Terry Curran looking at a called strike three - one of eight strikeouts against no walks.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Purple and Gold sent 11 batters to the plate, scoring a tourney-high six runs.

Harvey walked to open the frame before McDaniel singled.

Riddle whacked Valdez's 0-1 pitch over the 210-foot center-field fence for a three-run homer - her third dinger of the season.

With two outs and Frascatore aboard on a fielder's choice, Moore was plunked by a pitch before Lewis walked to load the bases.

Lane singled to left to plate Frascatore, before Harvey just missed with a homer to straight away center as the ball hit base of the fence for a two-run double, 8-1.

With two outs in the top of the seventh, Jeanette Soto tripled before Topliff reached for the fourth time in four plate appearances to close the scoring on an RBI fielder's choice.

Lehigh's first-year skipper Nick Dysert summed up his team's efforts.

"Topliff played really well. She's got a lot of natural ability," he said. "I wish we could've taken away 1-2 bad innings, but we can't. We didn't battle back."

Seeking the game's silver lining, "A game like this against a quality opponent like Hernando prepares us so much for our district tournament," added Dysert, the school's former baseball coach. "It helped us speed up our bats against some the faster pitching were going to see next week."

In describing the Lady Leopards, "They're fundamentally sound. They've got some great bats," said Dysert. "We had to make some great plays just to stay in the game. They keep the ball in play."

On accepting the second-place trophy, "Yeah, I'm definitely OK with second," Dysert said. "Honestly, we just wanted to take this experience to get ready for districts and playing Hernando definitely helped us."

There were several heroes for Hernando, which converted 30-of-31 defensive chances behind Riddle while rapping 11 hits off two Lady Lightning pitchers.

Moore upped her average to .276 by going 2-for-2, plus a walk.

"This was big," said the 16-year-old Moore. "It gives us momentum going into districts."

On what the greatest lessons learned from the weekend in Lee County, she said, "We learned to pick each other up and to play this game as a team instead of individuals."

On her improvement at the plate, "I feel like I'm seeing the ball much better," said Moore. "A couple of hits gives me a lot more confidence."

Moore also gave love to Riddle (23-1).

"Courtney worked out of some jams today, but she really stayed strong throughout the tournament," noted Moore, the team's backup pitcher.

"After the morning game, I felt much better (physically) for the late game," explained Harvey, who finished 2-for-3, pushing her average to .278. "I went into the game wanting to have fun.

"I thought Courtney was pitching really well. She was in a good rhythm," insisted the 17-year-old Harvey. "And defensively, we were on it."

Explaining the game's significance, "A tournament like this puts us exactly where we need to be going into next week," emphasized the Lady Leopard captain. "Can we play better than we played here? Oh, yeah. Lady Leopards are going to be unleashed next week."

In a terrific overall performance, Riddle paced the Brooksville nine with a 3-for-3 effort at the plate while adding her county-leading 38th, 39th and 40th RBI on the season.

"By our third game, I was seeing the ball real well," detailed the 18-year-old Riddle. "On my last at-bat, I thought it was just fly ball. Yeah, I hoped it would go over."

Riddle said of the Lehigh Lady Lightning, "They're a good team. I felt like I did my best. This is a big win because it gets us ready for districts."

Cape Coral and Mariner Girls Softball Tournament II


at Mariner

Cape Coral-Island Coast 25, Lehigh Acres-East Lee County 24

Lehigh Acres-Lehigh Sr. 17, Cape Coral-Mariner 3

at Cape Coral

Cape Coral-Ida Baker 13, Naples-St. John Neumann (6 Innings), 13-1

Hernando 5, Cape Coral 3 (9)


at Mariner

Lehigh Sr. 15, Island Coast 0 (3)

Mariner 17, East Lee County 0

at Cape Coral

St. John Neumann 7, Cape Coral 6

Hernando 5, Cape Coral-Ida Baker 1

7th Place:

at Cape Coral

Cape Coral 15, East Lee County 0 (3 Innings).

5th Place:

at Mariner

Mariner 8, St. John Neumann 6

3rd Place:

at Cape Coral

Ida Baker 15, Island Coast 0


at Mariner

Hernando 8, Lehigh Sr. 2


Round 1:

at Cape Coral

Hernando 5, Cape Coral 3 (9 Inns.)

123 456 789 R H E

HER 030 000 002 - 5 10 3

CC 000 003 000 - 3 6 2

HER - Riddle and Lane.

CC - Buss and Krolczyk.

W - Riddle (21-1). L -Buss (12-5).

2B - HER: Solovitch; CC: Slaughter.

3B - HER: Harvey, Riddle.

Records - Hernando (1-0 tourney, 21-2 overall), Cape Coral (0-1 tourney, 13-7 overall).


Round 2:

at Cape Coral

Hernando 5, Ida Baker 1

123 456 7 R H E

CC 000 100 0 - 1 5 4

HER 003 200 x - 5 6 0

IB - Ellithorpe and Kane.

HER - Riddle and Lane.

W - Riddle (22-1). L - Ellithorpe (11-7).

Records - Ida Baker (1-1 tourney, 13-7 overall), Hernando (2-0 tourney, 22-2 overall).

Round 3:

at Mariner


Hernando 8, Lehigh Sr. 2

123 456 7 R H E

LEH 000 010 1 - 2 7 1

HER 200 060 x - 8 11 1

LEH - Jayda Valdez and Suanez.

HER - Riddle and Lane.

2B - LEH: Suanez; HER: Harvey.

3B - LEH: Soto.

HR - HER: Riddle.

W - Riddle (23-1). L - Jayden Valdez (7-5).

Records - Lehigh Sr. (2-1 tourney, 13-7 overall), Hernando (3-0 tourney, 23-2 overall).

HHS Batting Stats (thru 3 games)


Moore, Lauren, HER 02 04 01 02 0 0 0 00 .500

Riddle, Courtney, HER 03 11 01 05 0 1 1 04 .455

Lewis, Erika, HER 03 09 03 04 0 0 0 03 .444

Lane, Megan, HER 03 12 02 05 0 0 0 04 .417

Harvey, Danielle, HER 03 10 01 04 1 1 0 03 .400

Cannon, Sierra, HER 03 10 01 03 0 0 0 00 .300

McDaniel, Tana, HER 03 10 02 02 0 0 0 00 .200

Frascatore, Kaylee, HER 03 08 02 01 0 0 0 00 .125

Solovitch, Summer, HER 03 10 02 01 1 0 0 00 .100

Hunter, Darrian, HER 03 02 01 00 0 0 0 00 .000

King, Ashley. HER 01 01 00 00 0 0 0 00 .000

Niethammer, Susie, HER 02 01 01 00 0 0 0 00 .000

Milligan, Taylor, HER 01 01 00 00 0 0 0 00 .000

Patrick, Nikki, HER 02 00 01 00 0 0 0 00 .000

TOTALS (14) 03 89 18 27 2 2 1 14 .303

HHS Pitching Stats (thru 3 games)


Riddle, C., HER 03 03 03 23.0 18 06 04 01 25 0 3 0 1.22

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