DADE CITY — Pasco limped into the district tournament, losing five of their past six regular-season games with a schedule backloaded with excellent opposition.
And when it was over after Friday's 4-0 victory in the championship game, the Pirates left it with a spring in their step.
Putting their uneven finish to the season behind them, as well as the disappointment of finishing district runnerup last year, the Pirates (22-6) vault into Tuesday's region playoffs against South Lake looking once again like a potential state contender.
"I think we're going to win every time we step on the field,'' said coach Shamalene Broner, who had guided her team to the playoffs in all six of her seasons.
"We wanted to play those tough games at the end. I'm not disappointed at all. I notice something different now. We're not on vacation anymore.''
A night after homering twice, Colena Lazar allowed only three hits and struck out 12.
Only one Shark made it past second, and that was thanks to an illegal pitch. Otherwise, Lazar was in command.
"Pitching-wise, everything was working,'' she said. "Hitting-wise, I hit two homers last night, so I think I was swinging too much for the fences.''
Lazar won her 16th game of the season while also going over the 200 strikeout mark for the first time in her prep career.
The Pirates scored twice in the third inning as Megan Newsome doubled in Emily Pennington, and came around to score on Lucy Schneider's single.
In the fifth inning, Newsome and Schneider scored, the latter on a bunt by Sarah Burchfield.
Nature Coast (16-11) will travel to Harmony for the first region playoff game in program history.
Ashley Antzcak, Jen Marshall and Kelsey McManus had the hits for the Sharks, and McManus added two highlight-reel catches in centerfield.