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NEW PORT RICHEY — Trust isn’t easily earned with Gulf coach Rick Hohenthaner.
His sensational sophomore duo, pitcher Madison Morlan and catcher Nikki Sedivey, have performed well enough this season to try something different — a decision that nearly backfired on the Buccaneers after Tuesday’s first inning against Class 5A, District 8 rival Fivay. But Gulf recovered for a 7-2 victory.
“I was a little hesitant because tonight was the first night I allowed my catcher and my pitcher to call their own game,” Hohenthaner said. “It was something we discussed last night because they’re a nice tandem and they work well together.
“I wasn’t worried, but I had a little bit of anxiety in the beginning.”
Morlan allowed two earned runs to start the game but quickly recovered, throwing six shutout innings.
Jena McElderry got Fivay on the board with a two-RBI single in the first. The Falcons (6-3, 4-2) struggled to get runners in scoring position the rest of the night.
“I had to get into my zone and buckle down,” Morlan said, who finished with 11 strikeouts while improving to 4-1. “I trust my defense a lot.”
Morlan settled down after a tough first inning and let her frustration out while batting in the bottom of the second. With runners in scoring position, Morlan ripped a two-RBI single to centerfield, tying the game.
“I think that really pumped everybody up,” Morlan said. “It pumped me up to pitch better on the mound.”
The Buccaneers (7-3, 5-1) ran away with it in the fourth inning with Rachel Gardner’s RBI single followed by Amber Maxey’s two-RBI double to leftfield. Sedivey crossed home plate in the sixth off an error.
Every starter was able to safely reach base for Gulf, which outhit Fivay 11-7.