SPRING HILL – For the ninth consecutive summer, a Spring Hill Dixie Softball program captured a district title, doing so Sunday afternoon within the friendly confines of Anderson Snow Sports Complex.
Spring Hill’s “Die Hard” Darlings (ages 7-8) All-Stars – known as the local team that practices regardless at what Mother Nature throws at it – completed a three-game sweep for its second straight District 4 championship, edging Wesley Chapel, 5-2.
With the win, Spring Hill (3-0) advanced to the July 10-14 State Championship in Okeechobee.
Skipper Chris Way’s club opened up the three-day event at home by whipping West Pasco Friday evening via the 10-run mercy rule in four innings, 12-1.
Despite trailing 7-0 after half an inning Saturday, Spring Hill rallied for a heart-stopping 22-21 triumph over Wesley Chapel.
Trailing 21-20 in the bottom of the sixth, Spring Hill’s Zoey Primavera cracked an inside-the-park, two-run homer with no outs sealing a thrilling walk-off win.
“I’m so proud of this group, particularly on how hard they have worked to get here,” pointed out Coach Way. “This group never gives up. Yesterday (Saturday), Wesley Chapel smoked us for three innings, but our guys kept at it.”
On the significance of Sunday’s title game, “It’s huge,” remarked Coach Way. “We went from an offensive game on Saturday to a defensive game today. Defense won this title.”
Way praised his infielders, particularly his middle infielders for throwing out the possible lead runners time after time.
“Defensively, we were on it,” noted Coach Way. “Some of our kids played above their level.”
On where the team goes from here, “The kids will get a day off and then it’s back to work,” said Way. “This team can still get better. At states, we’ve got to run the bases better. Overall, we hit as a team a lot better than I expected.”
On peering into the Wesley Chapel dugout, “When you have great coaches, you have great teams,” detailed Coach Way. “This was an awesome tournament; we definitely got tested.”
On the lessons learned, “As a staff we learned about the importance of reporting our subs,” Way said. “And we found out the placement of our infielders, especially at this level is huge.”
On Sunday, Wesley Chapel broke out on top once, 1-0, in the top of the first inning.
Alexis Adelman, who finished 1-for-2 with three RBI, drove in two runs in the bottom of the first to allow the hosts to regain momentum, 2-1.
Sarah Tipton rapped an RBI single in the second to push Spring Hill’s lead to 3-1.
In the third inning, Makayla Way and Adelman each smacked RBI singles to forge a 5-1 cushion.
After Wesley Chapel scored in the top of the fourth inning, its defense sparkled with an awe-inspiring triple play.
With Makayla Way and Bella Meredith aboard on singles, Hailie Krieg ripped a hard shot to the Wesley Chapel shortstop, who tagged the lead runner and then stepped on second base for the second out.
Thinking there was three outs; Wesley Chapel players were leaving the field. But on the play, Krieg never stopped motoring until she was tagged out in a rundown between third and home plate for the third out.
Offensively, Spring Hill’s 13-hit attack was led by Makayla Way, who finished a game-high 2-for-2 with a run scored and one RBI, while Primavera finished 1-for-2.
Adelman, Way and Primavera were the lone returning All-Stars from last season’s District 4 triumph.
Makayla Way’s mother, Brandy Way, a former two-time All-Sunshine Athletic Conference third baseman/pitcher from Ridgewood (2000-01, and Honorable Mention in 1999), believed last year’s title run was tougher.
“Last year was so unexpected,” admitted Mrs. Way, “It was a lot tougher to win last year. Everybody knew West Pasco had the team to beat, but we won, 23-8.
“This year, our offense carried the day on Friday and Saturday, but our defense made the difference today,” she said. “And I can’t say enough about Wesley Chapel. Those guys came ready to play.”
In recapping the tourney, Spring Hill outhit West Pasco in Game 1, 19-5, en route to 12-1 triumph.
Defensively, second sackers Kamryn Baker and Adelman made play after play.
West Pasco never recovered from Spring Hill’s three-run first inning. The uprising was highlighted by RBI singles by Adelman, Jaiden Chechile and Mackenzie Eland.
At the plate, Chechile and Adelman each finished a team-high 3-for-3 featuring five singles, one double, three combined runs scored and three RBI.
Way and Primavera each concluded the evening 2-for-3 with a combined three runs scored and two batted in.
Eland and Krieg combined for four hits in four at-bats, plus two runs driven in.
Saturday’s Game 2 slugfest featured a combined 58 hits. Primavera finished 4-for-4 with three singles to complement her game-winning homer and three runs scored.
Not to be outdone, Adelman also finished 4-for-4 with three singles and a double with two RBI and three runs scored.
Down 7-0, Spring Hill clawed back into the game scoring seven runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Leading the uprising was Makayla Way with a three-run homer. Way finished 3-for-4 with three runs scored and four runs knocked in.
Meredith rapped three safeties including a single, double and a triple besides scoring two runs and driving in three.
2014 Dixie Softball District 4 Recap
at Spring Hill’s Anderson Sports Complex
Darlings (ages 7-8)/3 teams
Spring Hill 12, West Pasco 1 (4 Innings)
Spring Hill 22, Wesley Chapel 21 (6)
Wesley Chapel 10, West Pasco 8
Spring Hill 5, Wesley Chapel 2