ZEPHYRHILLS — After haunting Zephyrhills two of the past three postseasons, Groveland South Lake right-handed ace Shaina Dent found a co-star in the latest Bulldogs nightmare Tuesday.
A senior named Jessica Anderson, wielder of an aluminum bat and steel resolve.
In consecutive innings, Anderson recovered from 0-2 counts to deliver clutch RBI hits. The first, a run-scoring double in the seventh inning, seized momentum from the Bulldogs. The second, a two-out single in the eighth, seized the lead. For good.
When Anderson was done, and Dent had recorded her 10th strikeout to end the game, the Eagles (18-5) had rallied from a 3-0 seventh-inning deficit for a 4-3 eight-inning triumph in the region quarterfinals.
"We knew it was all or nothing (entering the seventh), and we had nothing to lose," Anderson said. "So we put everything we had out on the field."
Anderson's seventh-inning double, which cut the Bulldogs' deficit to 3-1, chased Zephyrhills freshman starter Lauren Pasquale, who allowed only two hits in the first six innings and retired 11 consecutive South Lake batters at one point.
Zephyrhills collected eight hits off Dent in the first five innings, but managed only two in the final three.
One of them, a leadoff double by Ashley Anderton (4-for-4, one run, one RBI) in the bottom of the seventh, came a couple of feet from clearing the rightfield wall and ending the game.
Pirates can't capitalize on chances
Pasco's bid to return to the final four ended in a 2-1 loss at Harmony.
The Pirates (23-4) fell behind in the second after a throw to third by catcher Megan Newsome went into the outfield, allowing runners at first and second to score for a 2-0 lead.
Pasco had eight hits, stranding a pair of runners in the first and leaving the bases loaded in the third.
Pirates junior Colena Lazar only allowed one hit while striking out five.
Izzy Gould, Times staff writer