NEW PORT RICHEY — With River Ridge and Mitchell so evenly matched, it seemed almost inevitable the final would come down to the bottom of the seventh during a tie game.
Mitchell captured the Class 6A, District 10 title in dramatic fashion, defeating rival River Ridge 5-4 Thursday on a single by a Ryleigh Hill.
“I told her, ‘You’re due,’ and she hits that line drive to leftfield that turned out to be the winning run,” Mitchell coach Scott Bisbe said.
Hill’s shot to short left should have held Paige Davis to third base, but River Ridge mismanaged the ball, allowing Davis to score.
“That’s the kind of game you expected from River Ridge and us,” Bisbe said.
River Ridge (17-5) crossed home once in the third on a RBI single by Madisyn Palmer and again in the fourth to take a 2-1 lead.
Cassidy Neptune got Mitchell (16-7) rolling in the fifth, blasting a two-RBI double to rightfield and eventually crossing home on a passed ball, making the score 4-2.
“I was thinking opposite field, hoping to get the game into a tie, which turned into a lead,” Neptune said. “I couldn’t do it without my team.”
Mitchell pitcher Madison Stanilou (10-2) was able to keep River Ridge scoreless through the fifth and sixth innings, but struggled to put away the Royal Knights in the seventh. With two on and two out, Morgan Tolle drove in Jaclyn Duckworth on an RBI single followed by an RBI single from Kenzi Maguire to square the game at 4.
“They started hitting me towards the end of the seventh and I had to stay calm and get through it,” said Staniloiu, who finished with five strikeouts.
River Ridge’s Amber Jones popped out to centerfield on the first pitch, leaving two stranded, establishing Mitchell’s late-game heroics.
6A-6: Adams on her game for Springstead
The arm of Alexis Adams has been the biggest weapon for Springstead all season, and she delivered again in the Class 6A, District 6 championship game.
The Eagles were able to shut out host Lecanto 2-0 behind a one-hitter from Adams.
Springstead (20-4) reaches the state playoffs for the third consecutive season, the longest stretch in program history. Adams, a senior, will have the opportunity to add to her already-impressive season strikeout total, which stands at 206 after punching out six Thursday. She broke former Eagle Becky Powell’s 2008 school record of 201 strikeouts.
Adams was dominant against Lecanto (15-9), even on its own field. With the help of her defense, she was able to record her fifth straight shutout with four one-hitters in that span.
“(Adams) was on her game today,” Springstead coach Craig Swartout said. “I think she understands that she only has so many high school games left, so she is turning it up a notch.”
Offensively, the Eagles started a little slowly, but an RBI single from Louise Disi and sacrifice fly from Adams gave Springstead all the support it needed.
“The seniors really got together in the middle of the game and refused to lose,” Swartout said.
One of those seniors was shortstop Brittany Martinez, who saved numerous hits with her stellar play in the field.
For the second straight season, the Eagles will host a region quarterfinal when the South Lakes visits Tuesday. Last season, Springstead was upset in that same round by Durant.
“The differences for us this season are the intangibles that our freshmen bring to the table,” Swartout said. “That home loss last year left a bad taste in the seniors’ mouths, and they are focused on making sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Times correspondent Derek J. LaRiviere contributed to this report.