LARGO — Pinellas Park pitcher Sara Nevins has been in a season-long batting slump, at least according to the senior USF signee's expectations.
But with the game on the line, there are not too many hitters Pinellas Park coach Shane DeMartino would rather see at the plate.
After Pinellas Park rallied in the sixth inning in its Class 5A region quarterfinal against Seminole to tie at 3, the Patriots won their first region playoff game courtesy of a one-out base hit from Nevins in the bottom of the seventh for a 4-3 victory.
"Lately, I haven't been hitting at all," said Nevins, her voice weakened from the effects of laryngitis. "I knew we could do it. We had runners in position, I just waited for a strike."
Samantha Martin reached on an error with one out for the Patriots (23-4) in the seventh, and Tatum McDowell followed with a single to leftfield, putting runners on first and second.
"I know what (Nevins is) capable of doing," DeMartino said. "If you put the right pitch there, she's going to crush it."
Seminole (16-8) capitalized on two errors, a passed ball and a wild pitch in the second inning to grab a 3-0 lead. Brooke Ours had an RBI infield single to score the Warhawks' second run.
Seminole cruised through five innings, save for a play in the third inning where first baseman Jen LaBau and Pinellas Park batter Jenna Rimensnyder collided at first on Rimensnyder's bunt attempt, allowing Tracy Coward to score the Patriots' first run.
In the sixth, though, the Patriots finally got to pitcher Sarah Read, who had held the Patriots to three hits through five innings. After a strikeout to start the inning, Nevins, who went 3-for-4, singled to center, Taylor Klinesmith singled and Courtney Lonardo walked to load the bases. In a clutch situation, the Patriots' No. 8 batter, Hayley Ledford, delivered, singling to rightfield to score both base runners.
"All I was thinking about was trying to make contact, get it in a gap somewhere," Ledford said. "As soon as I hit it, I knew one run was scoring. I was just hoping we could get both home."
Nevins struck out the side in the seventh to fan her 13th, 14th and 15th batters of the game,.
"The girls didn't quit," DeMartino said. "You could see in their eyes, they weren't done."