DADE CITY — Pasco ace Courtney Brandt struck out her single-game high 21 batters in Tuesday’s Class 4A region final, but the senior lost the last game of her high school career.
That record-setting effort was not enough to stave off playoff nemesis Harmony, which moves on to the state tournament with a 4-3 win in nine innings. The Longhorns have knocked out the Pirates in regionals in three of the past four seasons.
“She did everything she needed to do,” Pasco coach Lisa Herndon said of Brandt (16-5). “We’re going to miss Courtney.”
Tied at 3, Harmony capitalized on two Pasco errors for an unearned run in the top of the ninth. Brittany Bruns singled and advanced on a wild pitch and infield error and scored when the ball came out of first baseman Sarah Burchfield’s glove as she tried to tag out Savannah Austin on a bunt play.
“That’s a tough one to lose,” Herndon said. “Inexperience and errors in the field.”
Pasco, which has just two seniors on the roster, finished the season at 25-7, dropping to 13-1 at home.
Harmony struck first on Bruns’ home run over the leftfield fence in the second. That was the lone hit in five innings off Brandt, who finished with a five-hitter.
The Pirates scored all of their runs in the fourth. Lizzy Burchfield and Brandt opened that inning with back-to-back singles and Jordan Lane brought both runners home with a double to centerfield. Lane raced home when Kaylee Britton reached on an infield error.
An inning later, the Pirates were in prime position to add to their lead when they loaded the bases on walks to Kelli Parker and Brandt, and Lizzy Burchfield was hit by a pitch. A freak triple play, which went 3-2-5-3, ended that threat with some confusion on whether Lane’s grounder might have been caught as a line drive.
“They were supposed to run,” Herndon said.