CLEARWATER — If there was chance to knock off Palm Harbor University, this was supposed to be the year. After all, the Hurricanes lost the county player of the year (Samantha McCloskey), pitcher of the year (Taylor Sabol) and their longtime coach (Chuck Poetter).
But the more things change, the more they remain the same.
For the second straight year, the Hurricanes won the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game.
And it wasn’t close.
On Friday, PHU hitters spent the better part of the game punishing St. Petersburg in a 10-0 victory that continued to tilt the axis toward the North Division in what has annually been a one-sided affair in this title game format.
“All year these girls have been hearing about how this was the time to get Palm Harbor because we lost so much,” first-year coach Kerry Katchuk said. “But we still have a pretty good group, and when these hitters get going we can be tough to beat.”
The Green Devils (12-5), who had won 10 of their past 11 games, lost their momentum quickly. In the third inning, the Hurricanes (20-4) scored all 10 of their runs.
PHU pitcher Rachel Taylor took it from there, pitching a shutout in a game that was cut short because of the mercy rule.
“Rachel pitched a real crisp game,” Katchuk said. “On offense, we have so much speed that we were able to put pressure on them. We’ve been able to do that all year.”
Monday, the Hurricanes allowed a late lead to slip away in a loss to Countryside. Since then the Hurricanes have been on a tear, beating Seminole and St. Petersburg this week by a combined score of 23-2.
PHU had three players collect two hits Friday — Moriah Connolly, Logyn Lilley and Claire Hamilton.
“After a loss, we’ve been known to take revenge to the next level,” Connolly said. “We all came together against Seminole and we’ve continued that momentum.
“We’re playing our best right now, and we have to continue that the next few weeks.”