Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Region softball: Plant City 4, Plant 0

PLANT CITY — The backdrop was perfect, and Plant City supplied the near-perfect game.

On a crystal clear night when a full moon lit the sky and a constant breeze kept the American flag blowing in centerfield, Plant City provided one of its best performances on the season Wednesday with a 4-0 victory against Plant in a Class 8A region quarterfinal.

Plant City (24-2), which plays Riverview Tuesday in a rematch of last week's district finale, hit the trifecta with powerful pitching, timely hitting and near-flawless defense. Plant finished at 15-13.

"Everything was clicking and it was our night," Plant City coach Ashley Bullion said. "We've always contributed everybody from the top to the bottom and it's a whole team effort. … Even our dugout is helping with the runners."

Except for an outfield fielding error in the seventh — leading to Plant's only base runner to advance as far as third — Plant City hardly broke a sweat.

Alexis Williams' first-inning RBI single scored Becca Sorenson, her first of two run-scoring singles with two outs to give freshman right-handed pitcher Ashley Blessin all the offense she would need. Sorenson, the Raiders' senior third baseman who plans to attend Polk State College, added insurance in the fourth against Plant's Danielle Tringali with a two-run single, one of three Plant City players with two hits (Blessin was the other).

"I've been seeing the ball good lately," Sorenson said. "The last time I faced (Tringali), she hit me twice and struck me out on a drop ball. So I just wanted to make sure that I got the ball before it dropped (on the two-run single)."

Blessin allowed four singles and struck out seven in a 108-pitch outing (71 strikes). She allowed only one walk on six three-ball counts. Ten of Plant's 18 outs came on flyballs or pop-ups. Centerfielder Morgan Slater preserved the shutout on a lunging catch with a runner on second to end the fourth, and catcher Edmilly Molina threw out a Panther attempting to steal second in the fifth.

"We've been here before (Plant City lost to Steinbrenner in last year's region semifinals)," Bullion said. "But this year is different, because we have Ashley and she's been throwing a heck of a season. Everybody on defense has been supporting her."

Sorenson, who charged the plate to catch a potential sacrifice bunt in the fourth, said the Raiders rely on each other.

"We have good motivation throughout," she said. "When someone makes something (happen), we carry on with that motivation. We work as a team. … We need every single player on this team to be involved."

Comments
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 4

UPDATE, 10:24: The Rays lost Smith, who was taken sixth overall by the Mets and then traded to the Royals, but kept Ciuffo and Ott. In the minor-league portion, the Rays lost INF Riley Unroe, their 2013 second-round pick, plus OF Angel Moreno and C R...
Updated: 5 hours ago
NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Carson Wentz's injury drops Eagles out of top five

NFL Power Rankings, Week 15: Carson Wentz's injury drops Eagles out of top five

What follows below is a ranking of all 32 NFL teams. To build this list, we consulted five objective measures of team strength: Pro Football Reference’s Simple Rating System, Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average ratings...
Updated: 3 hours ago

North shuts out South squad in Pinellas All-Star Football Classic

CLEARWATER — The players had so much fun, officials at Clearwater High School literally had to turn off the lights post-game to get everyone to go home.With more than 60 talented and motivated seniors participating in Wednesday's 23rd annu...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Does UCF have a shot at a split national championship?

Does UCF have a shot at a split national championship?

Reader Ken Kueker asked a great question yesterday:"If UCF beats Auburn in the Peach Bowl, what do you think of voting them #1 in your AP ranking?"My short answer is the obvious cop-out: It depends on how UCF looks (is it a triple-overtime win o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rick and Tom podcast: Dirk Koetter, Evan Longoria, Stanley Cup and more

Rick and Tom podcast: Dirk Koetter, Evan Longoria, Stanley Cup and more

In their latest podcast, Rick Stroud and Tom Jones answer a lightning round of questions. Will Dirk Koetter be the Bucs’ coach next year? Where will Evan Longoria be on Opening Day? Will the Lightning win the Stanley Cup? Who will be better next year...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Marchand rallies Bruins by Wings

Marchand rallies Bruins by Wings

DETROIT — Brad Marchand assisted on the tying goal late in regulation and scored the winner 35 seconds into overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings on Wednesday.The Bruins managed only two shots on goal in the first period but tw...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Tampa Bay Rays making progress in trade talks

Without getting into specifics – especially the who and the where – Rays officials are for the first time talking optimistically about making a trade before the winter meetings end Thursday.Speaking at around 5:15, senior VP Chaim Bloom s...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

Live from Disney: Winter meetings update, day 3 – updated with news

UPDATE, 5:55: Trade talks apparently picked up this afternoon, perhaps related to previous activity by other teams, and for first time Rays officials sound like something could happen tonight."At this point today, some of those conversations are movi...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

Market starting to set itself as Rays’ trade talks intensify

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Alex Colome claimed he was just showing good social media manners Tuesday night in following four Cardinals-related Instagram accounts since they were saying nice things about him.In doing so, whether for that reason or another mor...
Updated: 12 hours ago