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Region softball semifinals roundup: Freedom makes early lead hold up

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Thu. May 2, 2013 | Joey Knight | Email

The first postseason in Freedom softball history has been extended. First by the weather, and now by some timely offense.

Caroline Whiteside’s bases-loaded walk in the second stood up as the winning RBI for the Patriots, who struck early and held on for a 4-2 win against reigning state champ Chamberlain (21-8) in the Class 7A region semifinals.

The contest, which began Tuesday evening, concluded Thursday afternoon after previously being stopped twice by rain and lightning. The Patriots (20-3) travel to Sarasota for Saturday’s 2 p.m. region final.

“We are definitely super excited,” Patriots coach Autum Hernandez said. “Chamberlain’s a great team, they have a great tradition, they played us great all three days. We were just excited to be able to pull that off.”

The first postponement came Tuesday at the end of the first inning, but not before Katlin Hall hit a two-out home run to left-center. When action resumed Wednesday, Whiteside drew her walk to put Freedom ahead, 3-0.

“Getting on the board in the first inning against Chamberlain, that was huge for us,” Hernandez said.

Chamberlain added two runs in the third before action was stopped again. On Thursday, No. 9 hitter Rachel Carlson provided a sixth-inning insurance run with a double that scored Ashley Wilson, who also had doubled.

Bradenton Bayshore 8, Blake 7: The weather delays that stretched this 5A region semifinal over three days not only snatched Blake’s momentum, but a shot at the program’s first region final berth.

Bayshore rallied for two runs in the top of the seventh to end the Yellow Jackets’ improbable playoff run. The Jackets (12-11) scored six first-inning runs when the game started Tuesday evening.

Thursday afternoon, they loaded the bases twice — in the fourth and sixth — but failed to score.

“I think if we would’ve played them solid on one day, we would’ve beaten them,” Jackets coach Jean Smith. “But it was just one of those dogfights and unfortunately it didn’t work out the way we wanted.”

Trailing 7-6, Bayshore’s Marina Clark led off the seventh with a double, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on Taylor Izatt’s suicide squeeze. Kassidy Clifford’s ensuing grounder was misplayed, allowing Izatt to score.

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