Two weeks ago, Countryside’s offense was in a funk. The Cougars were shut out against Palm Harbor University and managed just four hits and three runs (all on errors) in a narrow win over St. Petersburg.
Countryside coach Kaylyn Bayly believes in a lineup that makes pitchers work. Every team seeks that, to some degree, but Bayly wants it ingrained in the Cougars’ philosophy. With their offense in transition, it has become a guiding principle.
It also has helped Countryside’s ferocious attack get back on track. On Wednesday, the Cougars had 15 hits in a 10-7 win over rival East Lake. Countryside has scored a combined 41 runs and had 50 hits in its last three games, all wins.
“It was just a matter of being more focused and having better at-bats,” Bayly said.
Unlike some of the other teams in the county, Countryside has a lineup with less power but more patience. The Cougars will take or foul off good pitches. But they understand what pitches they can drive and when to look for those pitches.
That approach has served Countryside well this week, and Bayly believes it will continue.
“The girls have responded,” Bayly said. “We need to keep staying patient, though, if we’re going to be successful.”
On Wednesday, the Cougars were consistent, scoring at least one run in each of the first five innings. The two big innings came in the third and the fifth, when Countryside scored three in each. Hailee Keisling, who had her 39-game hitting streak come to an end last week, went 3-for-3 with a double.
Trailing 10-4 in the seventh, East Lake rallied with three runs but could not get any closer. The Eagles had 11 hits, including four for extra bases. Nicole Szelest had the biggest one, a triple.
East Lake, which started the season strong, is now in its own funk after losing three straight.
Dunedin 15, Gibbs 0: One night after upsetting Osceola, the Falcons continued their recent tear, routing the Gladiators in a game that was called after four innings because of the 10-run rule. Dunedin scored at least three runs in each of the first three innings and finished with 14 hits, including six doubles. Aubrey Ehlers was the winning pitcher and had a double for the Falcons.
Dixie Hollins 3, Countryside 2: For most of the season, the Cougars had been the hottest team in the county, rising to the top of the standings. The Rebels, meanwhile, were flying under the radar. Not anymore. Dixie Hollins rallied with two runs in the bottom of the seventh to hand Countryside its second loss of the season. Outfielder Darren Peterson had two of the Rebels’ three doubles.
Tarpon Springs 4, Clearwater 0: The Spongers (11-3) backed the shutout effort of pitcher Anthony Bariso by scoring twice in the first and third innings.
Standout performances from Wednesday night:
Aubrey Ehlers, Dunedin: The freshman softball pitcher throws a shutout for the upstart Falcons and has one of the team’s six doubles in a 15-0 victory over Gibbs.
Hailee Keisling, Countryside: The Cougars catcher, a softball hitting machine, is at it again, going 3-for-3 with a double in a 10-7 victory against East Lake.
Anthony Bariso, Tarpon Springs: Spongers baseball pitcher improves to 2-0 with a shutout against Clearwater. He also produces at the plate with two doubles.
Darren Peterson, Dixie Hollins: The outfielder’s two doubles spark a comeback as the Rebels score twice in the bottom of the seventh to beat Countryside 3-2.