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TAMPA — On a breezy night in Westchase, struggling Alonso sophomore Elly Pillers was clutch, and hitting coach Sherman Johnson was clairvoyant.
Credit Johnson for calling the Pillers shot — a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh — that lifted the Ravens (5-0, 2-0) to a 3-2 triumph Friday against Class 8A, District 7 foe Wharton.
“We were just talking earlier and I said, ‘She has the potential to do incredible, she hasn’t done it yet,’ ” Ravens coach Robin Kopp said. “(Johnson) was like, ‘She’s coming, she’s coming, she’s going to hit tonight.’ And she did.”
Pillers’ winner, a grounder up the middle that barely eluded the outstretched glove of second baseman Sam Hathcoat, ended a 2-for-12 season-opening funk for the No. 8 hitter and propelled Alonso to its third come-from-behind triumph.
“I was in a big slump,” Pillers said, “but right before, my teammates picked me up and they got me through it and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Wharton struck first when Hathcoat led off the game with a single, moved to second on Jordan Brett’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Kassidy Kujawa’s single. USF signee Monica Santos’ fifth-inning double scored Brett, giving the Wildcats (4-2, 1-1) a 2-0 lead.
But ’Cats pitcher Katlin Hall, who retired the first 12 batters she faced, walked Kali Martin to open the fifth before surrendering a triple to Ravens ace Erika Shick. Courtney “Red” Smithgall followed with an RBI double to tie the score.
Shick singled to open the seventh and moved to second on Smithgall’s grounder, setting up Pillers’ winner.
“They really believe in themselves and they pull through,” Kopp said. “It seems to be a pattern lately.”
Standout performances from Friday night
Tommy Robertson, Cambridge Christian: In a five-inning, 15-4 rout of Seffner Christian, the senior had two doubles and a homer.
Sam Hathcoat, Wharton: The junior leadoff hitter went 3-for-4 with a run scored in the Wildcat softball team’s one-run loss at Alonso.
Catie Lytle, Newsome: The senior had a double and home run in the Wolves softball team’s 3-2 loss to Plant.
Sammy May, Steinbrenner: The senior was 2-for-2 with two RBIs and a run scored in a 12-1, mercy-rule baseball win over Wiregrass Ranch.
Cailin Milne, Gaither: The Cowboys junior homered and doubled in her team’s 8-2 victory against Freedom.
Dylan Drawdy, Riverview: The USF commit pitched a complete-game shutout as the Sharks beat East Bay 8-0.
Destin Nichols, Berkeley Prep: The senior catcher hit his first home run of the year in a 5-0 shutout of Tampa Prep.
By the numbers
0 Runs scored by Jesuit baseball opponents in three games this year. Rival Tampa Catholic is up today.
1 Hit for Freedom in a 3-2 loss to Gaither, but it was nearly enough, as junior Johnny Keigher hit it out of the park.
13 Runs being averaged by Chamberlain’s undefeated softball team in its first six games, including Friday’s 13-2 romp of Wiregrass Ranch.
25 Hits totaled by the Freedom and Gaither softball teams in the Cowboys’ 8-2 victory Friday. Gaither had 15, including five for extra bases.
40 Runs scored by Jesuit’s baseball team in three games this year.
Did you know?
Alonso softball ace Erika Shick, who has picked up the decision in four of the Ravens’ five victories, signed with the University of Tampa last week. Shick went distance in Friday’s 3-2 win against Wharton, going 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI.