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SEMINOLE — First, there was the optimism engendered by Seminole’s surprising start to the season. Then came the euphoric afterglow from the Warhawks’ shutout victory last month over defending district champion Countryside.
But all the good feelings were pushed aside this week after a deflating loss to St. Petersburg in which Seminole was continually victimized by defensive lapses.
After losing two games in the past week, the Warhawks were in dire need of a turnaround to get the team back on track. It happened Friday night, when Seminole jumped out to an early lead, watched it disappear then rallied to pull out a wild 9-8 victory in 11 innings over East Lake.
“Eleven innings in a game,” Warhawks coach Mark DeRuzzo said. “That’s enough to kill a man.”
For a while it appeared Seminole would cruise. The Warhawks led 7-0 through two innings. Then the miscues that had caused trouble recently happened again. Errors were plentiful as Seminole committed 11 of them to allow the Eagles to climb back into the game.
East Lake scored three in the fourth inning to ignite a rally. By the seventh inning, the Eagles had tied the game. East Lake went ahead after scoring in the 11th.
In the bottom of the 11th, the Warhawks came back. Brianna Hartman singled then scored the tying run after Katlyn Vega reached on an error. Brooke Ours followed with a single and Savanna Rumore singled to bring in Vega for the winning run.
The victory, though, was offset by the latest blunders in the field. DeRuzzo tried to solve the problem after the loss to St. Petersburg with a grueling five-hour practice, in which players ran and did nearly 200 push-ups.
“We try to make the team accountable for mistakes,” DeRuzzo said. “Yelling doesn’t always work with teenagers. So we tried a different approach. We’re just looking for them to make the clean play.
“This is a young team, and they’ll get it.”
Jennie Sittloh went 3-for-5 and struck out 10 to lead Seminole.
Aliyah Andrews had three hits for the Eagles, including a double. It was a tough loss for East Lake, which was looking for redemption after being upset by Dunedin this week.
“No one played well for us,” Eagles coach Mike Estes said. “That’s all I got.”