TAMPA — Pitcher Sammi Grat scattered five hits and batterymate Elizabeth Mason stole home to highlight Gaither’s 8-0 shutout of Steinbrenner in Saturday’s Class 7A, District 8 championship game.
The Cowboys, district champions for the first time since 2010, scored three runs in the third inning and four in the fourth to break open a scoreless game. Gaither (16-5) will host 7A-7 runnerup Plant City on Thursday in a region quarterfinal.
“She’s steady,” Gaither coach Jerry Murray said of Grat (11-1). “She’s not the fastest, but she has a lot of different pitches.”
Mason, who in the top of the third threw out Kellee Ramsey at second base on Kiki Hohmann’s sacrifice bunt attempt, stole home for Gaither’s third run in the bottom of that inning.
“Me and my shortstop (Bethany Kursch) have good communication,” Mason said of her defensive play.
As for Mason’s steal of home, Murray said, “We catch things and we take advantage of it. When you have an advantage, take it.”
Kursch doubled, singled, drove in a run and scored once to spark Gaither’s offense. Mason and Carolyn O’Neal each scored twice. Payton Hiday and Ashley Masuck each had singles and scoring in the four-run fourth.
Emily Scios reached base four times for Steinbrenner (13-9). The designated hitter doubled twice, walked and was hit by a pitch. Nichole McClendon, who came on in relief of starter Ramsey in the fifth, added two singles for the Warriors.
In Thursday’s region quarterfinals, Steinbrenner plays at 7A-7 champion Durant.