PALM HARBOR — The first time Palm Harbor University played Sarasota Riverview, the Hurricanes left 10 runners on base in a frustrating loss.
On Tuesday, PHU made it count when a batter reached base.
The Hurricanes used one big inning to give themselves breathing room in a 4-0 victory that forced a tie at the top of the Class 8A, District 8 standings. The No. 1 seed could come down to a coin flip between PHU and Riverview.
Through three innings, the Hurricanes (20-2) were flummoxed by Rams starter Corinne Jenkins, who has signed with Florida International. PHU had no hits and just one batter who reached base at that point.
Everything changed in the fourth inning. Logyn Lilley reached on an error and advanced to second. She came home on a single by Rachel Taylor that proved to be the winning run.
“We were facing a Division I pitcher who is as good as anyone we’ll see this year,” Hurricanes coach Chuck Poetter said. “We have a little bit of history with her, and we finally caught up to her at the end.”
The big inning came in the sixth when PHU batted around and scored three runs. Lilley had a two-run triple and came home on a single by Samantha McCloskey.
“I was nervous when I was up there because I’m a freshman playing with all these seniors,” Lilley said. “I was just waiting for a pitch at the right spot and made contact. I think it helped seeing this pitcher a second time around.”
Taylor Sabol allowed six hits, all singles. In the seventh inning, the Rams got two straight singles with one out. But Sabol ended the threat by getting the next two batters to pop up.
Poetter to retire
Poetter announced that this will be his final season as coach, leaving the program he built into a powerhouse after 15 seasons to spend more time with his family.
“My granddaughter is 8 years old and is getting into softball” Poetter said. “I can’t work, coach and spend time helping her. It’s too much.”
Poetter first coached at Largo, leading the Packers to final four appearance in 1994 and a playoff berth in ’95. Three years later, he took over the Hurricanes. In 1999, he led PHU to a state title. He also coached the Hurricanes to state titles in 2004 and ’05. He has nearly 400 victories.