PALM HARBOR — Palm Harbor University found itself on the ropes Friday, down late to Sarasota in the final of the 6A-7 district tournament.
Like so many times before, the Hurricanes turned to their senior shortstop, Madison O'Brien.
Trailing 2-1 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, O'Brien saw a pitch in her wheelhouse and hit it to the fence, doubling home teammate Megan Copeland and sending the game into extra innings.
Two frames later, O'Brien returned to the plate, this time with the bases loaded. Sarasota brought in a fresh pitcher to face O'Brien. Unfazed, she found a hole in the infield and sent a ground ball to right, capturing victory for the Hurricanes, 3-2 in dramatic fashion.
"Our first and second batters did a great job today. They were doing their jobs getting on and I had to do my job," said O'Brien.
"Just like any senior on the team …we know the pressure situations and we know we have to step up and deliver."
Meanwhile, sophomore Taylor Sabol pitched nine strong innings for the Hurricanes.
She subdued the Sailors offense with the exception of the sixth inning, in which she gave up two runs on five hits before working out of a bases-loaded jam. She allowed only four hits the rest of the way and finished with seven strikeouts.
"Taylor doesn't get upset," said PHU coach Chuck Poetter. "It was incredulous to me that she could be that mature as a freshman.
"As a sophomore there is no jinx. She's just very unflappable and very easy to coach."