TAMPA — Durant junior Madi Taylor spent the first varsity start of her life assuring herself of a second.
Taylor’s first hit of 2013 was a two-run home run to leftfield in the top of the fifth inning, highlighting the reigning Class 8A state champions’ 5-1 victory Tuesday against Alonso.
“The second (pitch) was right down the middle for me,” said Taylor, who had popped up to first base her first at-bat. “I was up on the plate a little bit. I just swung and as soon as I hit the ball I knew it was out.”
The Cougars (4-2, 1-2), who snapped a two-game skid in District 7 play, tacked on three more runs off four hits in the seventh to seal things. Payton Lewis’ two-out, two-run single capped the spurt.
“We were trying some different things around,” said Cougars coach Matt Carter, still tweaking his lineup in an attempt at another lengthy postseason run. “(Taylor) was due, she knew it and she did a great job. That was a shot. You get something like that, and obviously it picks everybody up.”
The Ravens (3-3, 0-3), who have dropped three in a row but figure to remain a player in the district race, collected five hits off Cougars senior ace Paige Davis, but couldn’t buy a timely one.
Alonso got its lone run in the bottom of the sixth on Kiara Johnson’s single to left that scored Megan Wetzel. The Ravens put runners at the corners with two out later in the inning before Davis (eight strikeouts, three walks) struck out Allison Carroll swinging at an outside drop ball.
“My pitches were breaking really good,” said Davis, who has signed with two-year South Florida State College in Avon Park. “The last couple of games they’ve been off, but today they were working extra good.”
Taylor, who has committed to NAIA Thomas University in south Georgia, finished 2-for-3, adding a double in the Cougars’ three-run seventh. Ravens leadoff hitter Elly Pillers led the hosts, finishing 3-for-4.
“We’re happy with it,” Carter said. “We needed a good, solid win, not a squeeze-out win.”