PLANT CITY — Coach Heidi Kouveras has juggled her lineup of late, a strategy that paid off Thursday night with Plant City’s 2-0 win over Durant in the Class 5A, District 8 championship game.
“A lot of people don’t expect certain spots in the lineup to hit,” said Kouveras, alluding to a run-scoring double by Kellsey Bruner, the No. 9 batter. “It’s been coming together.”
The nearby rivals could not have been matched more evenly. Both teams entered the final with 20 wins, which included splitting the two-game season series. And through four innings they were scoreless.
That changed in the bottom of the fifth when the seventh, eighth and ninth batters came through for Plant City. Chelsea Hanks led off with a single and pinch-runner Kennedy Steele advanced to second on Taylor Storey’s fly out to leftfield. Bruner belted a double over the outstretched glove of leftfielder Nikki Giovenco to score Steele.
“It’s all about coming through with that one clutch play,” Kouveras said. “That double is what we needed.”
The Raiders weren’t done as Bruner raced home on Mackensie McAvoy’s shallow fly ball to rightfield that wound up an RBI single.
Raelynn Nichols made a valiant diving attempt, but the ball squirted out of her glove. Bruner scored, but McAvoy was out trying to advance to second .
Those runs made a winner out of starting pitcher Mackenzie Audas, who tossed a two-hit shutout and struck out 15.