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District softball roundup: Ace propels AATL to another title

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Thu. April 18, 2013 | Derek J. LaRiviere

BROOKSVILLE — Sparked by an outstanding performance from senior ace Sydney Boynton, Academy at the Lakes captured its second straight Class 2A, District 4 championship Thursday at Hernando Christian.

The Wildcats defeated Seven Rivers Christian 9-2 behind a one-hit effort from their starting pitcher.

After walking the leadoff batter, Boynton retired 12 straight Warriors (11-9) and didn’t allow a hit until Milena Kacer beat out a 3-foot infield hit. Boynton finished the complete-game victory with six strikeouts, two walks and no earned runs.

The contest was in hand for AATL (10-5) from the start. In the bottom of the first, Skyler Boynton, the battery mate for her sister, was hit by a pitch to start the game. Catherine Smith walked in the two-hole before USF commit Lauren Evans knocked both players in on a two-run triple. The team tacked on three more runs in the frame to jump out to a 5-0 lead.

“I tried to work the outside half of the plate,” Boynton said. “That’s where I usually try to pitch, and the umpire’s strike zone opened up more as the game went on.”

The lead was 7-0 at the end of two. As has been the case most of the season, Evans was the hitting star for the Wildcats, going 1-for-1 with two walks, two runs scored and three RBIs, including a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

Sydney Boynton felt some soreness in her right hamstring in the fifth inning, then finished with a sore right shoulder as well. The ailments didn’t seem to affect her down the stretch.

“Sydney’s got a lot of class and composure,” AATL coach Jerry English said. “Nothing seems to rattle her out there.”

The win was the culmination of a difficult season for AATL. The team had five games canceled due to rain, and English suspended four players for the district final for missing practice. .

“It’s been terrible,” English said. “We use the regular season for experience, and there’s a big difference between playing 20-25 games and playing 10-15.”

5A-7: Leopards get back to regionals  
BROOKSVILLE — With Nature Coast’s opening-round upset of Crystal River in the Class 5A, District 7 tournament, the Sharks set up Thursday’s matchup with top seed Hernando.

The Leopards were able to clinch their first postseason appearance since 2005 with a 6-0 victory. Hernando faces Tavares tonight for the district title.

Junior Courtney Riddle, sporting a 1.23 ERA, tossed a three-hitter with no walks and four strikeouts. The Sharks (14-13) harmlessly scattered singles in the first, fourth and seventh innings.

“Pitching and defense win ball games,” Hernando coach Kevin Bittinger said. “Our girls made some great plays out there (Thursday night).”

For Riddle, in her third season at Hernando after two seasons at Hernando Christian, the experience was important. Nature Coast coach Ernie Chatman, in his first season with the Sharks, was the HCA coach when Riddle was there and made two state final four appearances with the standout hurler.

“With (Chatman) in the other dugout, it gave me an idea of what they were going to do,” Riddle said. “Since he coached me for so long, he knows my strengths and weaknesses.”

Ashley Sims (4-for-4, one run, one stolen base) was the offensive standout for the Leopards, who racked up 12 hits off Nature Coast starter Kat Gonzalez (complete game, six earned runs, one strikeout, one walk).

Hernando and Tavares split their two meeting, one-run games both times. The Leopards last won districts in 2004.

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