BROOKSVILLE — Thanks to his star pitcher and an offense that woke up at the perfect time of the season, Hernando Christian coach Ernie Chatman found himself holding up the Lions' seventh consecutive district championship trophy Thursday evening.
HCA defeated Seffner Christian 8-2 in the Class A, District 8 championship by shutting down the lineup of a team that had won eight games in a row coming in.
The Lions (19-4) were led on the mound by ace Courtney Riddle. She tossed a complete game, surrendering only one earned run, which came in the seventh inning.
Riddle struck out six and walked only one, which also came in the final frame.
"Courtney hasn't stopped playing since last season between travel ball and the high school season," Chatman said. "That experience is so valuable."
Only one hitter for Seffner Christian (10-10) was able to solve Riddle: Nicci Hopps. The Crusaders catcher went 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI, hitting every ball she had hard off the Lions' pitcher.
The rest of the lineup struggled to get to Riddle, especially early. She struck out four of the first five batters she faced, staking her team to a 2-0 lead after the second inning.
"Courtney had good pop on the ball early," Chatman said. "Later in the game, the defense picked her up, and that's what we needed to do."