TAMPA — For the second straight night, Gaither defeated a district rival it had lost to twice during the regular season. Now the Cowboys are Class 5A, District 9 champions.
Gaither held host Sickles (22-5) scoreless in a 4-0 win Friday night. The Cowboys earned the title shot with a 3-2 upset of Chamberlain in the semifinals.
"I told the girls, 'When it comes to the end of April, you've got to be playing your best ball to advance,' " Gaither coach Al Alcala said.
It did not take long for the fourth-seeded Cowboys (18-9) to get on the scoreboard. Shelby Heiser doubled in the top of the first inning and raced home on a two-out single by Morgan Litchfield.
For a while, it looked like that might be the only run as Gaither ace Kristen McGrath and Sickles' Chelsea Oglevie settled into their grooves. McGrath finished with a two-hitter while Oglevie scattered six hits with eight strikeouts.
Sickles (22-5) nearly tied it in the fourth when Ashli Goff slid home on a fielder's choice by Danielle Rowe, but the home plate umpire ruled that she missed the plate. Goff was tagged out after catcher Loni Campbell retrieved an errant throw home.
"Our plan was to keep the Goff twins off the bases and, for the most part, we did," Alcala said.
Ashli Goff went 1-for-2 with a walk and Courtney Goff was 0-for-3. Gaither added two runs in the sixth on Megan McGrath's run-scoring double and Morgan Litchfield's sacrifice fly. Kristen McGrath, who led off that inning with a single, and Heiser, who reached on a fielder's choice, scored.
Megan McGrath added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.