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SPRING HILL — Three things came to an end in Tuesday’s Class 6A region final: Alexis Adams’ scoreless innings streak, Springstead’s nine-game win streak, and the Eagles’ road to the state title.
Springstead fell 5-2 to defending state champion Melbourne Eau Gallie.
“We knew they were a good team coming in,” Springstead coach Craig Swartout said. “We made a mistake to one of their best hitters, and that kind of turned the tide.”
The nationally-ranked Commodores (28-2) started ace Megan Lafon (complete game, two earned runs, 10 strikeouts), who didn’t have her usual dominant game against a poised Eagles lineup. Springstead (24-4) combined for nine hits, the third-highest total of the season against the senior, who surrendered 10 hits to both Okeechobee and Melbourne.
Adams (complete game, four earned runs, five strikeouts) looked just as confident as her teammates early on. That lasted until the fourth inning when the senior’s 55-inning scoreless streak came to end. Eau Gallie notched three runs in the frame on the shoulders of a double by Rachel Engel to give the Commodores a 3-1 lead.
“I think I could have done a lot better than what I did,” Adams said. “I could have mixed up my pitches better, but this was definitely the best lineup I’ve faced.”
The Eagles answered with a run in the fifth. Brittany Martinez led the frame off with a double and was sacrificed to third by Hailey Drawe. Adams knocked her in with an RBI groundout to cut the lead to 3-2. The Springstead ace went 2-for-4 in her final prep game.
That was as close as the team would come after Eau Gallie pushed runs across in both the sixth and seventh innings to end Springstead’s most successful season in the program’s 22-year history. Though the tying run came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, a strikeout ended the light rally.
“Hopefully we can get a couple freshmen that can come in and start,” Swartout said, “and we can do this again.”
2A: Sloppy inning trips up AATL
TAMPA — Academy at the Lakes’ record season ended with a 3-1 loss to Quincy Munroe in a Class 2A region final.
The Wildcats (14-5) won their first district title in school history and advanced to the region final for the first time.
Jerry English, Land O’Lakes’ all-time winningest coach who came out of retirement this year to take over the AATL program, described the season as “fantastic."
“They did some things that were really, really good,” he said.
Really good would aptly describe the pitching duel between AATL’s Sydney Boynton and Munroe’s Haleigh Corbally, who signed with Polk State in Winter Park. Corbally struck out 13 and Boynton fanned eight while allowing just seven hits.
Errors, however, led to the Wildcats’ downfall. Boynton scattered seven hits and allowed three unearned runs thanks to three errors in the top of the third for the Bobcats’ only scoring.
Kaitlyn Sirmons and Corbally had one-out singles with Mary Pat Thomas reaching on a fielder’s choice in that inning. Sirmons scored on the front end of a double steal with Corbally and Thomas coming around on Boynton’s back-to-back errors.
“We really didn’t execute well defensively,” English said. “We knew what to do with the ball, we just didn’t execute.”
The Wildcats got their lone run in the fifth when Skyler Boynton, who went 4-for-4, led off with a double and scored on a Lauren Evans single up the middle.
6A: Royal Knights KOed
LAKEWOOD RANCH — Huntyre Elling and Taylor Newton made sure their Lakewood Ranch softball team would be the first in the program’s history to advance to state, dominating River Ridge 10-0. The game ended in the bottom of the fifth because of the 10-run mercy rule.
Newton had two hits, drove in three runs and reached base in all three of her at-bats. Elling earned her 20th victory of the season, hurling a two-hitter with seven strikeouts.
In their big second inning, the Mustangs (24-7) had four hits and took advantage of three walks and an error.
“This was the sixth game this year where we had no strikeouts, and River Ridge (19-6) leads Pasco County with 19 home runs, but Huntyre is the great equalizer,” coach Tony Cummins said. “I could not be any prouder.”
River Ridge never had more than one runner on in any inning. It got its first hit on a bloop single in the third and added another in fifth.
Correspondent Steve Lee contributed to this report, which used information from the Herald.