Softball: Durant rekindles old magic at right time for key win



MORE from our HomeTeam writers.

More Video

HomeTeam Hot Shots
Vote for the top male and female athletes from the bay area
Chelsea Chavers, volleyball, Bloomingdale
Lauren Conway, swimming, Wiregrass Ranch
Madison Jenkins, volleyball, Berkeley Prep
Savannah Sawyers, swimming, Osceola
Samantha Schlesman, volleyball, Seminole
Sarah Sprague, volleyball, Sunlake
Trevor Foley, cross country, Nature Coast
Jake Hudson, football, East Lake
Patrick McNamara, cross country, Admiral Farragut
Dwayne Lawson, football, Hillsborough
Kevin Smith, swimming, Mitchell
Cade Weldon, football, Jefferson



Tue. March 19, 2013 | Joey Knight | Email

PLANT CITY — For one mild March evening, the Cardiac Cougars — replete with drama, trauma and triumph — resurfaced at Durant High.

As her dad lay in a Brandon hospital bed with a blood pressure flare-up, Durant junior Madi Taylor hit a two-run double down the rightfield line in the bottom of the sixth, rallying the reigning Class 8A state champs to a critical 4-3 district win Tuesday against Wharton.

“I would dedicate it to him,” said Taylor, who reported her dad, Billy Mas-Morel, was improving but likely to remain hospitalized at least one more night.

“I just kind of tried not to put that in my head because I didn’t want that to get to me. Ever since I was little my mom and dad always came to my games. They don’t miss one at all. … And I was like, ‘I don’t really want to think about that.’ ”

For virtually any other area team, the outcome would’ve been equal parts stunning and stirring, perhaps even surreal. For Durant (9-5, 3-2), it was standard.

This is, after all, the team that fastened its ponytails with pink hair ribbons (in honor of a cancer-stricken team mom) last spring and slipped them beneath rally caps (four come-from-behind wins in the last six games) all the way to the state crown.

“It was a good win,” said coach Matt Carter, who hinted he could use a few easy ones now and again. “We needed a good uplift right now after spring break.”

Specifically, they needed an offensive uplift after Wildcats sophomore Erica Matich hit her second solo home run of the night — this one to dead centerfield — in the top of the sixth to give Wharton (8-2, 3-2) a 3-2 lead.

In the bottom of the inning, senior ace Paige Davis hit a one-out double to the left-center gap, and junior Kelli Tidwell followed with a single. Taylor then hit the first pitch she saw from ’Cats ace Mak Dooley, an outside fastball, down the line.

“I knew that I was lunging for the ball,” said Taylor, who struck out her first two at-bats.

“And I was like, ‘I just need to wait on the pitch. Paige got a double, Kelli had a really nice hit. I just need to contribute to what they’re doing because I don’t want to lose this game.’ ”

Senior Alyssa Colding gave Durant an early lead with a two-run homer to left, about 10 feet beyond the 200-foot sign, with two out in the bottom of the first.

Wharton tied things on Matich’s first homer in the fourth and No. 9 hitter Kelsey Eggsware’s infield grounder in the fifth that scored Meagan Bell. But just as the tension rose, so did Durant’s mojo.


“We’re a good-hitting team … but they can’t get it all together and synchronize it like they need to do,” Carter said. “We need some good clutch hitting. Madi did a good, clutch job tonight. We really, really needed that one.”


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours