After three straight losses to district opponents, East Lake snapped out of its funk in a big way, recording 14 hits in an 8-2 victory against Palm Harbor University on Monday.
The win marks the first time the Eagles knocked off their biggest nemesis in the past 10 meetings.
“This was big for us,” first-year East Lake coach Kristie Delk said. “Palm Harbor is such a strong opponent and has been a road block for the girls. To win this gives us some momentum.”
Aliyah Andrews was the Eagles’ table setter, getting on base five times, stealing two and scoring three runs. Maddie Bertisch was 2-for-3 with two doubles. And Diana Rayder was stellar on the mound, allowing six hits and striking out seven.
“We really were able to put everything together,” Delk said. “We got a lot of hits and Diana did a great job of keeping some of Palm Harbor’s tough hitters off the bases.”
The only thing the win did not do for East Lake (11-8) was secure a berth in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game.
The Hurricanes (16-5), despite losing their past two, still has the inside track to be in Friday’s title game. PHU and Countryside each have one loss in the conference’s north division. The Hurricanes own the tiebreaker and have to beat Dunedin on Wednesday to play in the championship game a third straight season. If PHU loses, Countryside will go if it beats Tarpon Springs on Tuesday.
Regardless of whether they make the championship game, the Hurricanes have to find a way to get their high-powered offense on track after scoring just two runs combined in losses to Dixie Hollins and East Lake.
The only thing settled regarding the championship game is that Northeast will host. The Vikings won the south division after beating Lakewood 3-1 in nine innings on Monday. Chrissa Ellie had a two-run single in the ninth for Northeast.