BROOKSVILLE — Springstead boasted the dominant pitcher and veteran lineup, but Hernando would not be outdone Tuesday night at Tom Varn Park in the rivals’ first meeting of the season.
The Leopards came back to knock off the Eagles 4-3 after a walk-off error from Springstead catcher Brooke Fischbach.
Springstead (3-2) was up 3-0 going into the bottom of the sixth behind the stellar pitching of ace Lexi Adams. It was at that point that
Hernando (3-2) began to put the ball in play and get aggressive on the base paths.
With runners on first and second, Tana McDaniel, who went 4-for-4 on the night, hit an RBI double to cut the lead to 3-1. Courtney Riddle followed with an RBI single to cut it to 3-2. Shelbie Goodwin then hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to tie. Adams struck out the next two to end the rally.
The Eagles went down in order in the top of the seventh. Riddle, who relieved starter Britney Flannery, found a rhythm, and seemed to control the Springstead bats the rest of the contest.
“Courtney was missing outside when she first came in,” Hernando coach Kevin Bittinger said. “That’s what makes her such a great leader. She came to me and said, ‘If I pitch inside, they won’t be able to touch me.’ ”
After Adams set down the first two hitters in the bottom of the seventh, the game seemed destined for extra frames, until freshman catcher Megan Lane lined a single to right. Bittinger, always aggressive with his coaching, had his runner steal second.
“I noticed that the third baseman was playing in front of the bag, so I had her steal third, too,” he said. “I never would have done it if she was back.”
When she took off, Springstead freshman Fischbach tossed the ball about 5 feet toward shortstop. Bittinger didn’t hesitate to send Lane home. She beat the throw by about four steps to win the game.