DADE CITY — The oldest and fiercest rivalry on the east side of the county did not exactly live up to its billing in Wednesday’s Class 5A, District 8 semifinal.
Host Pasco and Zephyrhills were coming off 15-0 wins over lesser opponents, had split their two-game regular-season series and the Pirates were seeded second, one spot higher than the Bulldogs. Plus, a playoff berth for the winner was at stake.
So it wound up as a nail-biter, right?
Pasco cruised to a 9-1 win to earn a spot in Friday’s championship game at 7. The Pirates play Fivay, a 1-0 winner over top-seeded Gulf.
“We always have trouble with Zephyrhills and we don’t usually start off well,” said Pasco coach Lisa Herndon, who expected a much closer game. “The girls know no matter how good they are, it’s Zephyrhills.”
Pasco starter Emily Pennington was good enough to scatter six hits and had five strikeouts with two walks. She also got some help from a defense that turned two double plays.
“Emily was on tonight,” Herndon said. “We told her to really watch the top five (Zephyrhills batters).”
The first five Bulldogs in the lineup had a collective two hits, singles by Marissa Gochenour and Lindsey Hupp.
Leadoff hitter Kelli Parker and Jordan Lane, who bats cleanup, led the Pirates’ offense. Parker doubled twice, drove in a pair and scored once. Lane hit a two-run double in Pasco’s five-run second inning and singled.
Sarah Burchfield and Hannah Johnson each scored twice, in the second as well as Pasco’s four-run third.
In the first game, Fivay got the only run in the top of the seventh. Cristen Pruitt bunted for a single, stole second and scored on a two-out double by Sara Hogan. That ended a pitching duel between Fivay’s Jill McElderry and Gulf’s Madison Morlan.
7A-9: Chamberlain tops Wiregrass in five
LUTZ — Steinbrenner will head into tonight’s Class 7A, District 9 final to play a team it hasn’t beat all season.
Then again, that didn’t stop the Warriors on Wednesday night.
Behind a super outing by sophomore pitcher Kellee Ramsey — on the mound and in the batter’s box — the Warriors turned the tables on a Freedom team that had beaten them twice , holding on for a 2-0 victory and earning their second region playoff berth in three seasons.
The victory sets up a district finale with top-seeded Chamberlain (21-7), which beat Wiregrass Ranch 12-2 in a five-inning contest in the other semifinal.
Leadoff hitter and LSU-bound Bianka Bell was 4-for-4 with a double, triple, two stolen bases, three RBIs and four runs scored, including the game-clincher on an Ellen Scott drive over the rightfielder’s head. After scoring just six runs in their previous three games, the Chiefs were able to get their bats going.
Freedom, the No. 2 seed, did not. The Patriots (11-7) had beaten the Warriors 4-3 and 3-2 this season, but didn’t get a hit until two were out in the sixth inning.
John C. Cotey, Times staff writer