BROOKSVILLE — River Ridge made an impactful statement at the Leopard Slam Tournament at Tom Varn Park.
The Royal Knights went undefeated, including toppling Countryside 6-2 in the final Saturday.
At 21-1, River Ridge has dominated its schedule. But the question of if it could hang with the state’s elite had yet to be answered. The answer was an emphatic one as the Royal Knights, after a tight first three innings, dominated the team ranked No. 1 in the state, according to MaxPreps.
Makensie Goluba and Countryside’s Alyssa Queen were locked in a pitchers’ duel. Goluba surrendered only two hits through the first four innings while Queen allowed only three. While the Cougars (18-2) were down 2-1, one of those runs allowed was unearned.
Everything changed in the bottom of the fifth. Shortstop Kenzie Maguire led off with a double and was promptly brought home with a triple from second baseman Morgan Tolle. Goluba singled in Tolle, and the scoring was capped when senior catcher Jada Power slammed her fifth homer of the season, a two-run shot, over the leftfield wall.
Power (3-for-4, two runs scored) and freshman outfielder Anessa Holes (3-for-3, one run scored, one RBI) helped knock Queen out of the game in the fifth.
“We knew that if we sat back and waited for her curveball, we would be able to make solid contact,” Power said. “It was really important for us to be patient. And Anessa, being a freshman, helped that a lot.”
Goluba cruised from there, pitching a complete game while surrendering only two runs on three hits with four strikeouts and no walks. The second run came in the seventh.
“Goluba had a little extra on her pitches,” Power said. “You could tell that she really wanted this win.”
Host Hernando won the third-place game 9-2 over Gulf (15-5).
In the semifinals earlier Saturday, the Leopards (15-3) fell 1-0 to River Ridge and saw a runner thrown out at home in the seventh. Countryside beat Gulf 4-1 in the other semifinal.