NEW PORT RICHEY — Some say one play can decide a team’s whole season.
Never has the phrase been truer than in Friday’s Class 4A region semifinal between Pasco and River Ridge.
A seemingly harmless line-drive flyball by Pirates outfielder Vanessa Mills raced toward Royal Knights’ centerfielder Kat Femino in the second inning. But as Femino tried to get a beat on the ball, she slipped with the ball darting to the centerfield fence.
Mills scored and that’s basically all the offense Pasco needed, as the Pirates won 2-0 and move on to face Harmony, who defeated Tavares 6-4, Tuesday night at home.
“That’s (Vanessa Mills’) second in-the-park home run this year,” Pasco coach Lisa Herndon said.
“They’ve just been coming back around focused and they know they can play. If they go out there with the confidence, they’re fine.”
Confidence was very much needed vs. Royal Knights ace Lakyn Shull (10 strikeouts), who yielded only one run the last time out against Pasco on April 13th.
Pasco (25-6) didn’t repeat the past, scattering five hits, including Mills’ hit. The Pirates scored an insurance run in the top of the sixth off Shull. Pasco’s Courtney Brandt was in the zone all game, as the Stetson signee struck out 10 and limited River Ridge (22-5) to just one hit.
“This is probably the best group of kids I’ve had in a while,” River Ridge coach Ernie Beck said. “They were all together and I really thought we were going to go further, but Pasco told us different.
“You can’t go out there and swing at the plate like we did tonight. It makes no difference whether (Pasco) scored one or a hundred. You got to get on the board and we didn’t.”