BROOKSVILLE — Last season, Pasco ended Zephyrhills' dominance of Class 4A, District 8 by winning the district final 6-4.
Most expected this season's results to be close to the same, but someone forgot to inform the motivated Bulldogs.
Fresh off a semifinal upset of Nature Coast, Zephyrhills overcame the odds against Pasco on Friday night in a 3-2 shocker.
Pasco (22-3), starting the most dominant pitcher on the North Suncoast in Colena Lazar, hoped to land back-to-back district titles and a home playoff game, but the Pirates' bats were held silent thanks to a solid game plan from Bulldog coach Craig Milburn.
"I knew before the game that I was going to pitch all three of my girls," Milburn said. "Thankfully it worked out, and it gave us fresh arms and good matchups when we needed them."
The combination of pitchers Andrea Durrett, Kaitlyn Hutchinson and Lauren Pasquale held Pasco to two earned runs over seven innings. The most notable task accomplished by the staff was in handling Pasco's potent first four hitters.
Lucy Schneider, Colesa Lazar, Megan Newsome and Colena Lazar went a combined 3-for-12 with no runs scored, no RBIs and no extra base-hits against the Bulldogs (21-6).
"It is the little plays that make the difference in a defensive struggle," Milburn said. "We made those plays tonight."
At the plate, the Bulldogs took advantage of some unusually sloppy defensive play from the Pirates. Pasco committed five errors, including one that allowed Zephyrhills' first run to reach base. Although Lazar's final line (seven innings pitched, two earned runs, seven strikeouts) looked good, it was walks issued by her that eventually scored in the sixth and seventh innings.
In the bottom of the seventh, with the game on the line and the tying run on first for Pasco with two outs, Bulldog catcher Stephanie Hartman made a snap throw behind Pasco's Schneider for the pickoff and final out of the game. The play was risky, but in the end, it landed Zephyrhills its fourth district title in five seasons.
"It means so much to me to make a play like that for my team," Hartman said. "I had confidence in (first baseman) Ashley (Anderton) to catch the runner leaning, and it all worked out."