VALRICO — For every walk Bloomingdale pitcher Lace Smith issues, the penalty from Bulls coaches is simple: five runs from one foul pole to the other.
Smith doesn’t look like she’ll be running any time soon.
The junior ace was nearly flawless Tuesday night, striking out 10 batters — while walking none — in a 2-1 home win over Alonso.
The victory in a showdown between the top teams in Class 8A, District 7 keeps the Bulls (9-0, 5-0) perfect this spring.
“Try not to jinx it,” first-year coach Mandy Schuerman said.
Jinxing the Bulls would be a tough task, as long as Smith continues to dominate in the circle and at the plate.
With two on in the first inning, Smith fouled off seven pitches before finally blooping a single to centerfield to keep the early rally going. Two outs later, Lizzie Jackson scored on a throwing error to give Bloomingdale a 1-0 lead over the Ravens (7-2, 3-2).
Smith’s pitching was even more impressive. Four days after throwing a three-hit shutout against Newsome, she allowed only six hits to shut down a team that had been averaging 10 runs per game.
“There’s not much better than her right now,” Schuerman said.
Smith only ran into trouble twice. In the fourth inning, she gave up three consecutive singles, including an Allison Carroll hit to centerfield that tied the score.
Three pitches later, Smith rocketed a pitch to the backstop, but catcher Sammie Selden corralled it in time for Smith to save a run at the plate.
Smith came through again at the plate, leading off the bottom of the sixth with a single. Selden knocked a two-out grounder up the middle to bring in Smith for the go-ahead run.
Her only other hiccups came in the final inning. Hits by Carroll and Kayla Maxwell put runners on second and third with two outs. But Smith forced a harmless pop-up to seal the key district victory.
“It feels awesome,” Smith said. “We want to keep it going. Hopefully we can keep it going.”