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LITHIA — Newsome ace Bailey Schinella began her senior night being escorted to the circle by her mom and dad, the latter of whom she nearly lost a couple months back.
It grew only more surreal from there.
With Beth and Jerry Schinella watching from a GMC Envoy parked behind the rightfield fence Thursday, their FSU-bound middle child went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and tossed a two-hitter to lead the Wolves (11-9) to a 7-0 romp of Class 5A, District 8 leader Durant (15-6).
“We’re just lucky to have him here,” Schinella said of her dad, who collapsed during the Wolves’ home opener and, according to his daughter, was diagnosed with heart-related birth defects. “So if I can make him happy by doing this then I’m going to do it all the time.”
The way she has played lately, Schinella appears capable of fulfilling such a vow. In Newsome’s past two games, including Tuesday’s 20-3 rout of reigning 5A state champ East Bay, she’s 7-for-9 with three doubles, a home run and seven RBIs.
“I’ve been struggling a little bit at the plate, but I just try to stay confident,” Schinella said. “Just always have that in your head — you can get a hit.”
Schinella’s first-inning double off Durant ace Lauren Wolfe scored Felecia Heaser for the only run Newsome would need. The Wolves added four more in the second off two hits, three walks and one hit batter. Heaser’s two-run single to center was the big blast.
Schinella would account for the last two runs with a two-out, two-run double in the sixth.
“Newsome’s a great team. They hit the ball hard, crushed it a couple of times,” said Cougars coach Matt Carter, whose team still can clinch the top seed in the district tournament with a win Saturday at Plant City.
“But you can’t walk (batters), you can’t throw meatballs, and when you do get a chance to make an out defensively, you’ve got to make it. … We played like the Rays tonight.”
Photo: Jerry Schinella