TAMPA — The more Plant coach Melissa Sigmon aged Thursday, the more ageless her lineup became.
By the fifth inning of Thursday’s nondistrict game against Steinbrenner, seven Panthers freshmen — including the whole infield — were playing. Preceding that glimpse into the future: a grimace in the present.
The Warriors (9-4) collected 18 hits — believed to be a school record — and pounced on three Panthers errors en route to a 12-3 romp on a 50-degree night in south Tampa.
“I’ll be very honest, tonight our team fully came together 100 percent,” Warriors coach Colleen Sanders said. “Our pitching was on, our defense was on, our hitting was on. … I am very, very hopeful that we’re going to take this and run with it now.”
Sophomore leadoff hitter Erica Serafini (4-for-4, four RBIs) and junior ace Kellee Ramsey combined for eight of the hits, with Ramsey (4-for-4, two doubles, two runs) also tossing a complete game. Every Warrior starter had at least one hit.
“We had confidence tonight,” said Ramsey, who scattered eight hits while striking out eight and walking four. “And our attitude has a big role in how we play.”
Ahead 3-0 after three innings, the Warriors broke things open in the fourth, collecting five runs off four singles, two errors and a walk. In the process, Sigmon began her impromptu youth movement.
“My freshmen aren’t bad ballplayers,” Sigmon said, “and people in the field weren’t getting the job done, so we made some changes.”
Steinbrenner took a 10-2 lead in the top of the fifth on Serafini’s two-run single. Serafini and No. 9 hitter Daniella Bautista would add run-scoring singles in the sixth.
Plant, missing leading hitter and ERA leader Megan Przeslawski (knee), got run-scoring hits from McKenzee Herron, Rachel Hampton and Lindsay Phillips.