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EAST LAKE — Thursday’s game between East Lake and Palm Harbor University offered area softball fans a glimpse into a future burgeoning rivalry with the Hurricanes’ Madison O’Brien, a FSU signee, squaring off against East Lake junior pitcher Alyssa Bache, a Florida commit.
Score the early decision for the Seminoles.
O’Brien, a senior shortstop for PHU, crushed an offering from Bache to straightaway center field in the first inning to give the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead, then in the third inning, O’Brien had the game’s crucial hit, an opposite field grand slam to left that provided the final margin in a 6-4 victory for the Hurricanes.
The home runs were the first of the season for O’Brien.
“I honestly thought they were going to get caught up in the wind and the air, but I guess they just carried out,” O’Brien said. “They kept going.”
O’Brien’s grand slam came with the Hurricanes (7-1) trailing by two. Jess Adams led off the inning with a walk for PHU. Dani Darby, attempting to sacrifice Adams to second, reached safely on an error, and Megan Copeland’s infield single loaded the bases. Lindsay Fenlon laid down a perfectly placed bunt to score Adams and get on base before O’Brien uncorked her second home run of the game.
“It went off my bat and I was like, 'Oh, deep fly ball, this will score the runner at third,’ ” O’Brien said.
“And then it went over and I was, 'Whoa.’ ”
O’Brien’s blast erased a similar effort from Sydney Dinelli, who put the Eagles (6-1) ahead 4-1 in the bottom of the first with a grand slam, taking the first offering from Taylor Sabol (5-1) over the wall in left-centerfield. Alyssa Weaver and Marisa Palumbo singled to open the inning, and Kirsten Bembnowski walked to set up Dinelli.
After the third, though, Bache (5-1) and Sabol settled down and didn’t allow a run the rest of the way. Bache struck out 14 and allowed six hits. Sabol also allowed six hits and walked four, but came through when the Eagles threatened to tie.
With two outs in the fifth and runners on first and second, Sabol got Hayley Davis to strike out looking. In a similar situation — second and third with two outs — in the sixth, Sabol fanned Amanda Weaver.
Pinellas Park 7, St. Petersburg 2
Pinellas Park broke open a 2-2 tie against St. Petersburg by scoring five in the bottom of the sixth inning to defeat the Green Devils at home.
Patriots pitcher Sara Nevins allowed just two hits and struck out 15.
Canterbury 12, Academy at the Lakes 0
Academy at the Lakes stayed close until the seventh inning when the Crusaders pulled away by scoring eight runs.
Canterbury starter Krissy Longstreet struck out 14 to improve to 4-0.
Jennifer Crosthwaite went 4-for-5 and drove home five runs for the Crusaders (5-0).
Indian Rocks Christian 18, Admiral Farragut 0
Three Indian Rocks Christian pitchers combined for a no-hitter in an 18-0, five-inning blowout of Admiral Farragut.
Junior Daniel Hardesty (1-0) started for the Golden Eagles and went three innings, striking out four.
Grant Horvath, a senior left-hander, came on in the fourth and retired the Blue Jackets without allowing a hit.
Another senior, John McKnight, finished off AFA (0-4) in the fifth inning to complete the Golden Eagles’ outstanding pitching performance.
Jeff Burch was the offensive hero for IRC (4-1), going 4-for-4 with two triples and three RBIs. Eight players recorded at least one hit for the Golden Eagles.
IRC plays its first district game of the season Saturday at home against Bishop McLaughlin.