4A-8 district softball: Shull at her best for River Ridge; Zephyrhills loses close one

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Wed. April 20, 2011 | Derek J. LaRiviere

BROOKSVILLE — It would take a lot for the Class 4A, District 8 championship game to live up to the semifinals that took place Wednesday.

The doubleheader included two one-run games: a pitchers’ duel in the opening act and an extra-inning nail-biter in the main event.

To start the night, River Ridge upended Hernando 1-0 behind a gem on the mound from ace Lakyn Shull.

“You’re facing a Division I pitcher out there on the mound,” Hernando coach Kevin Bittinger said. “Our girls gave a heck of an effort out there tonight.”

Shull tossed a complete-game four-hitter for the Knights (21-4). With Hernando freshman Courtney Riddle matching her almost pitch-for-pitch, the River Ridge starter threw seven strikeouts and only two walks. The Leopards (13-12) threatened only once offensively, loading the bases in the fourth.

After two singles and a walk with two outs, Bittinger called for a bunt from Whitney Sims. Shull made a terrific play on the ball, tossing it back to the plate for the force out.

Riddle (five strikeouts, one walk) also threw a complete game, giving up her only her run in the third inning after River Ridge’s Morgan Toll hit a triple. She later scored on a sacrifice fly from Jada Clemons.

Lecanto barely got by Zephyr­hills 5-4 in eight innings.

The Panthers (9-12) went up 4-0 after the first three innings on Bulldog starter Lauren Pasquale, but the Zephyrhills pitcher shut the door from there, striking out nine.

The Bulldogs (14-15), who were coming off a stunning upset of top seed Sunlake earlier in the tournament, came back to score three runs to tie the game in the top of the seventh.

The hero of the game was Lecanto’s Amber Atkinson. Already 3-for-3 with three triples, she drilled a line drive to leftfield for a game-ending inside-the-park home run.

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