Monday, Jan 26, 2015

Nature Coast suffers first loss

Hernando Today correspondent

Published:   |   Updated: March 22, 2014 at 03:46 PM

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BROOKSVILLE - There was a touch of déjà vu for the locals following the first two rounds of the 16-team Leopard Slam III Softball Tournament - hosted by Hernando High - at the City of Brooksville's Tom Varn Park complex.

The biggest surprise was Pasco County's last remaining undefeated team, Mitchell, being upset by upstart Citrus, 4-1.

But the Citrus County club proved its opening-round victory was no fluke as the Golden Hurricanes (14-3) knocked a second team from its unbeaten perch, trimming Nature Coast Technical (13-1) with a RBI single by Kayla Quesenberry in the bottom of the seventh, 2-1.

With the game tied at 1-all in the bottom of the seventh, Citrus' winning rally began with the simplest of roots.

CHS senior Chelby Lawler faced a 0-2 count against unbeaten frosh right-hander Abbey Primavera. But Lawler coaxed a free pass - Primavera's lone walk.

Sophomore Emaly Ferreira successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt.

Next arrived a huge mental mistake by NCT catcher Chyloe Gonzalez. With Lawler drifting off the bag at second, Gonzalez attempted to pick her off by throwing to second. On the release, however, Lawler darted to third ahead of a late relay throw for a stolen base.

With NCT's defense pulled up attempting to make a play at the plate, Quesenberry crossed it up by lacing a single to right plating Lawler and ending NCT's decade-best 13-game winning streak.

CHS skipper Larry Bishop wasn't gloating afterward.

"We wanted to gauge ourselves against two quality teams today and we did," Bishop said. "Nature Coast had beaten us twice before, but we had made several mistakes.

"Tonight Chelby's walk generated a winning rally," he said. "I can't give you our grade for the tournament. Check back with me tomorrow. I just hope this continues."

Veteran NCT skipper Ernie Chatman didn't point fingers at anyone after the setback.

"I was contemplating whether or not to pitch to Quesenberry in that spot," Chatman said. "But we were facing the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters. I figured there had to be a reason why they're there. But in the end, they found holes and won the game."

On what Chatman took away from Game 14, he said, "That we weren't fundamentally sound and when you're not, you can be beaten."

In the expected game of the day, Fivay flamethrower senior right-hander Jill McElderry wasn't enough to solve NCT. The Lady Sharks won their tourney-opener, 4-0.

McElderry arrived with 119 strikeouts against 21 walks in 62 innings prior to facing the Lady Sharks.

On Friday, McElderry was clocked throwing as hard as 66 miles per hour.

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 poked a liner down the right-field line that rolled to wall for an inside-the-park homer.

Four pitches later, Gonzalez, who finished 2-for-2, tripled to left-center. With two outs, Gonzalez stole home, 2-0.

In the sixth, Courtney David cracked a RBI triple to right-center before scoring on the Lady Falcons' game-high fourth error, 4-0.

NCT frosh Alyssa Gonzalez (4-0) handcuffed the Lady Falcons to three singles and one walk in her third complete-game effort.

"It was an economical win," said Chatman, after NCT managed five hits. "She's (McElderry) is one of the hardest-throwing pitchers I've seen in some time. The key was we took advantage of our opportunities and played solid defensively."

? ? ?

For a third straight season, host Hernando reached Saturday's tourney semifinals by sweeping its first two games.

In the tourney opener, the Lady Leopards rallied from a 1-0 deficit after two innings to maul Mount Dora Bible, 9-2.

Offensively, the hosts swatted a game-high 13 hits off MDB junior right-hander Christine Delahoz (9-4).

Delahoz changed speeds to the tune of 10 strikeouts and no walks - but that wasn't enough. She permitted nine runs, though only two were earned runs as she was victimized by a game-high four errors.

At the plate, senior Tana McDaniel went 3-for-3 with two RBI while junior Megan Lane finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and one stolen base.

Junior Danielle Harvey, who came in hitting .222, finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Junior Erika Lewis, who arrived hitting .190, finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored.

Senior Summer, Solovitch was the fifth Lady Leopard with multiple hits finishing 2-for-4 with two RBI.

On the hill, senior right-hander Courtney Riddle notched her 10th complete game of the season permitting three hits (including a pair to sophomore Emilee Burford), two hit batters and one wild pitch against eight strikeouts.

In Round 2, HHS (13-1) lashed Lecanto (5-6) via the 10-run mercy rule in 4½ innings, 11-1.

All told, the hosts outhit the Citrus County club, 12-4. Eight different Lady Leopards collected at least one safety off Danielle Yant or Amanda Myers.

Four Lady Leopards stroked at least two hits apiece including: Harvey, McDaniel, Riddle and Sierra Cannon.

Cannon and Solovitch each scored twice while Lane went 1-for-1 with three runs scored and a game-high four stolen bases.

For the second straight game, HHS first sacker Darrian Hunter flashed the leather. Against Mount Dora Bible she went against the fence in foul territory to snare a foul ball.

Versus Lecanto, she snared Amber Russo's bases-loaded liner and stepped on the bag for an unassisted double play in the fourth.

"I'm seeing the ball well," explained the 17-year-old Solovitch following a 3-for-7 effort highlighted by three extra-base hits. "Our two wins place us in a perfect spot for tomorrow."

"This is the best I've hit in a while," detailed the 17-year-old Harvey, who went 4-for-8 and scored three runs. "The more hits I get, the bigger the confidence."

On Lady Leopards' semifinal clash with Citrus, "Two wins puts us where we need to be," said Harvey. "I thought the key was Courtney pitched well and we played solid defense."

"I'm just doing my job," pointed out the 16-year-old Lane, who went a combined 4-for-5 with six runs scored and five stolen bases on Friday from the leadoff spot. "I'm using my speed as best I can. I love stealing bases."

Looking toward Saturday's 11:30 a.m. clash with Citrus, "To me, this is our tournament," she said. "We're expected to win. I know I want to win this bad."

Lady Leopard skipper Kevin Bittinger was pleased with HHS' performance on Friday.

"I'm real happy with what I saw," he said. "We started off a little slow against Mount Dora Bible, but that's understandable playing at nine in the morning during spring break. The big thing was the girls adjusted to the pitching we saw."

In individual notes, "Any time your No. 9 hitter (Lewis) begins to hit, things really start clicking," noted Bittinger. "Same for our No. 2 hitter, Dani (Harvey). She stung the ball hard in both games. We're a very dangerous lineup if those two continue to mash.

"Defensively, Darrian (Hunter) has made great strides at first base in two years," added Bittinger. "She's the type of player that has made plays for us all season on the defensive side."

Meeting Citrus in Saturday's semifinal, "We know we can win games. We know we can play the game of softball," emphasized Bittinger. "But we're going to face some adversity tomorrow and our girls know they need up the energy and maintain their intensity."

Nature Coast Technical 4, Fivay 0

123 456 7 R H E

NCT 200 002 0 - 4 5 0

FIV 000 000 0 - 0 3 1

FIV - McElderry and Phillips.

NCT- A. Gonzalez and C. Gonzalez.

W - A. Gonzalez (4-0). L - McElderry (8-3).

3B - NCT: C. Gonzalez, David.

HR - NCT: Harvey.

Records - Nature Coast Technical (1-0 tourney, 13-0 overall), Fivay (0-1 tourney, 8-4 overall).

Citrus 2, Nature Coast Technical 1 (6.5 Innings)

123 456 7 R H E

NCT 000 100 0 - 1 6 1

CIT 001 000 1 - 2 7 1

NCT- Primavera and C. Gonzalez.

CIT - K. Abramowich and Corlew.

W - K. Abramowich (8-2). L - Primavera (7-1).

2B - NCT: C. Gonzalez; CIT: Josey.

HR - CIT: Quesenberry.

Records - Nature Coast Technical (1-1 tourney, 13-1 overall); Citrus (2-0 tourney; 13-3 overall).

Hernando 9, Mount Dora Bible 2

123 456 7 R H E

MDB 010 000 1 - 2 3 4

HER 002 142 x -9 13 0

MDB - Delahoz and Musselwhite.

HER - Riddle and Lane.

W - Riddle (12-1). L - Delahoz (9-4).

2B - MDB: Burford; HER: McDaniel, Solovitch.

3B - HER: Solovitch.

Records - Mount Dora Bible (0-1 tourney, 10-4 overall), Hernando (1-0 tourney, 12-1 overall).

Hernando 11, Lecanto 1 (4.5 Innings)

123 45 R H E

MDB 010 01 - 1 4 3

HER 315 11 -11 12 1

LEC - Yant, Myers (3) and Hopkins.

HER - Riddle, Moore (5) and Lane.

W - Riddle (12-1). L - Yant (n/a).

2B - LEC: Hopkins; HER: McDaniel, Riddle, Solovitch.

Records - Lecanto (1-1 tourney, 5-6 overall), Hernando (2-0 tourney, 13-1 overall).

Leopard Slam III Softball Results at Brooksville's Tom Varn Park


Round 1:

Hernando 9, Mount Dora Bible 2

Lecanto 11, First Academy of Leesburg 0

Citrus 4 Mitchell 1

Nature Coast Technical 4, Fivay 0

Belleview 3, Central 2

River Ridge 9, The Villages 0

American Heritage 12, Pasco 2 (6)

Winter Springs vs. South Sumter

Round 2:

Hernando 11, Lecanto 1 (4.5)

Citrus 2, Nature Coast Technical 1 (6.5)

River Ridge 10, Belleview 2

American Heritage 7, South Sumter 2

Winter Springs 6, Pasco 2

First Academy of Leesburg 16, Mount Dora Bible 4

Mitchell 12, Fivay 1

The Villages 4, Central 1

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