Sunday, December 17, 2017
Sports

Bulls can't slow streaking Pats

TAMPA — While trying to flip the local softball hierarchy, the Freedom Patriots also are attempting to turn an old athletic adage on its end.

Which is to say, they're counting on offense to win a championship. Ten games into a potentially historic season, the approach is working.

The latest aluminum onslaught occurred Tuesday. Behind sophomore Grace Street, Freedom (9-1, 4-0) collected 13 hits — six for extra bases — in a 7-1 romp of Class 7A, District 9 foe Wiregrass Ranch.

Freedom, seeking the first district title in the program's 11-year history, has won seven in a row. The Patriots, who rallied for four runs in the seventh to topple reigning 7A state champ Chamberlain 7-6 Friday, have collected at least seven runs in each triumph during the streak.

"That's something that we focus on at practice — offense over defense," fifth-year coach Autum Hernandez said. "The more runs we score, the looser our defense can play, so that's been our philosophy all year."

Street, the Pats' sophomore ace, provided all the run support she'd need, finishing 3-for-4 with a triple, double, two RBIs and a run scored. Despite struggling periodically with a tweaked changeup, she allowed only five Bulls hits, striking out three and walking two.

"I feel that we're very confident," Street said. "We all depend on each other, so when we all come together and perform like that with our hitting and our defense, we're confident we can win against almost any team."

Senior Katlin Hall also had three hits for the winners, including a pair of RBI doubles. Classmate Savanna Chavez, hitting .182 entering the contest, also had two doubles.

Kasey Mowery had two of Wiregrass Ranch's hits and scored her team's lone run on a wild pitch. The Bulls (6-4, 0-4) employed three pitchers, none going longer than three innings.

"We talk about how we have to work hard every day, with a purpose," said Hernandez, whose club entered Tuesday with a .365 team batting average.

"Every drill, every inning they have to prove a point. We have great teams in our district, so any given night anybody can get beat."

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