TAMPA — The last time Sickles and Venice met in the Class 5A playoffs, Gryphons pitcher Chelsea Oglevie threw a perfect game. Mel Dembinski nearly returned the favor Friday night for the Indians.
Dembinski, Venice’s lone senior, made a first-inning run stand up as the Indians (15-9) won 1-0 in the region semifinals. It was the same score as last year, when Sickles (21-8) won in eight innings in a quarterfinal at Venice.
The contest lasted only 82 minutes, but was decided in the first five. Kelly Ott hit a one-out triple to left-center off losing pitcher Nichole Lewis (10-5) and scored on Dembinski’s grounder to second base.
“After that one run in the first inning, nobody did anything,” Sickles coach Phil Giarrizzo said. “(Dembinski) did a great job of going in and out on us. There are no excuses. When the ball was there, we needed to put it in play.”
Dembinski (15-7) allowed two hits, Sickles’ only baserunners. Ashley Weisman led off the third with a single and advanced to third with two outs, but Mya Anderson popped out. Anderson’s two-out double in the sixth was wasted when Brittany Johnson flied to left.
A Central Arizona College signee, Dembinski threw only 77 pitches, 58 for strikes. The right-hander with a 64 mph fastball struck out five and Venice’s defense didn’t make a mistake.
“To come up in the first inning and have a lead set the tone for the rest of the game,” Dembinski said.
Venice first-year coach Lori Sandburg agreed.
“It was huge,” she said. “Starting off like that gets a ton of weight off (Dembinski’s) shoulders.”