PLANT CITY — Her throat rendered raw by a lingering virus, Durant ace Paige Davis chugged three bottles of water in a four-inning span of Thursday’s showdown at Plant City.
But the hits that accompanied the hydration provided the truly soothing relief.
Leaning on Davis’ guts and their own bats, the Cougars (9-0) scraped out a 6-5 victory against their crosstown rival (7-2) in a game steeped more in pride than postseason implications.
“This is bragging rights for Plant City,” said senior leadoff hitter Jordan LaFave, who finished 4-for-4 with three runs, including the decisive one in the sixth.
“They’ve normally been in our district and we have two shots to play them, but this is our one shot to play them (this season). And to capitalize on some of their mistakes and to pull through this win, I know it means a lot to our team.”
Trailing 2-1 after three innings, the Cougars scored three unearned runs in the fourth. Two of them came when the Raiders committed a pair of errors — one fielding, one mental — on Payton Lewis’ two-out grounder back to the circle.
Plant City clawed back with Leann Farkas’ sacrifice pop-up in the fourth and Jessica Butler’s RBI single in the fifth, but Durant answered with two in the top of the sixth.
LaFave, who turns 18 on Sunday, hit a one-out blooper to shallow center that drove in Mason Hubbard, and later scored on Davis’ sacrifice fly to center.
Davis, who battled through a high fever in wins against Alonso and Newsome last week, scattered 10 hits. Raiders No. 9 hitter Lindsey Farkas went 2-for-3 with a triple and two RBIs.
“Just the thrive of my teammates wanting to beat Plant City so bad, I didn’t want to let them down,” Davis said. “Even though I have been under the weather, they’ve been working their butts off, too.”