OCALA — Springstead has used the same formula to win a school-record 21 games this season.
Timely hitting with runners in scoring position combined with solid, aggressive pitching backed up by a Gold Glove-caliber defense has resulted in the Eagles’ most successful one-year run in the program’s history.
On Thursday, Springstead added to its accolades, winning its third district title and first since 2003. And the Eagles did it by following the same blueprint that has work all season in a 5-0 victory in the Class 5A, District 7 championship against Ocala Forest at West Port High.
“I’m glad for the seniors,” Springstead coach Craig Swartout said. “This was a long time coming.”
Springstead (21-2) put a run on the scoreboard in each of the first two innings, which was more than enough for ace pitcher Alexis Adams and her defense. Forest (10-13) put runners in scoring position in each of the final six innings but never could push a run across against Adams, who scattered four hits and issued two walks while striking out five. Springstead ran into problems holding a 4-0 lead in the sixth when Allison Phillips slapped a double to the wall in centerfield to give the Wildcats runners at second and third with one out. Eagles junior shortstop Brittany Martinez made a pair of outstanding defensive plays though to preserve the shutout.
“We won the game on defense tonight,” Swartout said. “With Alexis throwing and our infield with the way they play, as a coach it helps me sleep at night.”
Adams blooped an RBI base hit down the rightfield line to score Springstead’s first run in the opening inning. Anna Poholek drew a leadoff walk in the second inning and came home all the way from first when Kelsey Straquidine’s dribbler to second base was thrown into the outfield.
Shannon Cataldo doubled over the centerfielder’s head to start the fourth inning, and Poholek followed with a double to the base of the centerfield wall to put Springstead up 3-0.
“(Forest pitcher Allee Stelogeannis) got a strike on me and she was ahead of me,” said Poholek, who was 2-for-2. “I just didn’t want her to beat me.”
The Eagles scored another run in the fourth on Samantha Cluney’s RBI groundout and added an insurance run in the sixth. Adams gave up a infield single to start the seventh but retired the next three batters.
Springstead won its third game against Forest this season. In two regular-season matchups, the Eagles were victorious 14-2 and 11-2.