NEW PORT RICHEY — At least Sebring got to enjoy a lead. Other than that, the six-hour round trip wasn’t much worth it.
River Ridge predictably crushed the overmatched Blue Streaks 16-3 in a game that was halted after 4 1/2 innings.
Jada Power clubbed a grand slam to cap off an eight-run third inning that pushed River Ridge ahead 13-1. Morgan Tolle also homered and Kenzi Maguire went 3-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs.
Now it’s on to a more familiar opponent. River Ridge will play Mitchell for a fourth time, in Tuesday’s region semifinal.
“We are so ready to play them. It’s always a good game,” said Knights pitcher Makenzie Goluba, who struck out 10 Thursday. All three of the runs she allowed were unearned.
River Ridge played Mitchell in last year’s second round as well and won 10-7. The teams met last week with the Knights rallying for a walk-off victory.
The only drama Thursday was when the mercy-rule would kick in. A pinch-hit double by Kylie Palmer was shortly followed by four consecutive singles by Madisyn Palmer, Maguire, Tolle and Goluba to make the score 16-3 in the bottom of the fourth.
“We were a little sloppy defensively but it’s tough to keep focus in one like this,” River Ridge coach Ernie Beck said. “I think they were already thinking about the next game.”
Sebring (13-11) doubled then got a run on a two-out error in the top of the first but the Knights answered with Maguire’s triple to score Madisyn Palmer, followed by a two-run shot by Tolle, her eighth homer, making it 3-1.
“We weren’t worried when they scored. We knew we were gonna hit,” Tolle. “Now against Mitchell we have to come out strong, stronger than we did last time.”
The Knights (27-1) collected 13 hits compared to two for the Blue Streaks, who took nearly three hours to make it to River Ridge.
WINTER HAVEN — There is very little margin for error in regionals when hits are hard to come by. It all came down to the little things Thursday night, and Mitchell capitalized on Winter Haven’s four errors to defeat the Blue Devils 2-0.
“We just did the fundamentals and made the plays in the field,” Mitchell coach Scott Bisbe said. “We didn’t really hit the ball that well.”
Jordan Fowler pitched a complete game, striking out nine in a four-hit shutout.
“She’s really carried the load for us this year,” Bisbe said.
All four of Mitchell’s singles came off of Kimberly Eaton, who pitched the first three innings. Ryleigh Hill had two of Mitchell’s hits. Kaitlyn Lasseter pitched the rest of the way for the Blue Devils and didn’t allow a hit.
The Mustangs took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when Paige Davis hit a leadoff single, stole second and scored on an error by shortstop Darla Delmas. Mitchell scored again in the top of the seventh on a throwing error by second baseman Laura Beth Borders.