TAMPA — For one surreal stroll around the bases Tuesday night, the throbbing in Durant sophomore Kelli Tidwell's left knee vanished, soothed by one potent, pain-killing shot.
Over the fence in right-centerfield.
Tidwell, who has missed roughly 75 percent of the season with meniscus damage, hit a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning, lifting the top-seeded Cougars (18-4) to a 2-1 triumph against Wharton in the Class 8A, District 7 semifinals.
Durant faces No. 2 Alonso, a 3-2 winner against Bloomingdale, in Thursday's 7 p.m. final at Plant High.
"I just went up there looking for a base hit, trying to make contact, and it just went," said Tidwell, who hit her only other homer of the season off the same pitcher — Wildcats freshman Makaleigh Dooley — 12 days earlier. "It feels good to be able to come back."
Durant was forced into extra innings when Dooley, who allowed seven hits, led off the fifth with a solo homer to right. Durant led 1-0 in the third after Brooke Freeman doubled and scored on Nikki Giovenco's sacrifice bunt.
Shannon Bell had three singles for the Cougars. Tidwell, limited to designated-player duty for now, is hitting .400 since her return.
"There's still a lot of looseness, if you will, in that leg, so we're not playing her defensively at all," Cougars coach Matt Carter said. "Don't need to when you have a bat like that."
In Tuesday's early semifinal, Alonso senior ace Erika Shick survived a shaky fifth inning, with an assist from her sophomore-saturated defense.
With one out, a one-run lead and runners at the corners in the top of the fifth, Shick forced two hard infield grounders — one back to the circle — to quash Bloomingdale's final threat.
"I don't really get worried," said Shick, a University of Tampa signee, "because I know I have a good defense behind my back all the time."
Bloomingdale led off with three consecutive hits, including Savanna Aversa's RBI single. Alonso re-took the lead in the bottom of the inning when shortstop Jessica Warren hit a two-run home run, her eighth of the year, to left center.
Jayda Burkhardt's RBI single in the fourth gave the Ravens (18-6) a 3-1 lead. Bloomingdale No. 9 hitter Lexi Erickson led off the fifth with a slap double to shallow left, moved to third on Lizzie Jackson's ground out and scored on Jordan Alexander's bunt single.
5A-11: At Robinson, Knights senior ace Sarah Miller struck out 10 and delivered an RBI single in a three-run third as the top-seeded hosts defeated No. 4 Spoto, 5-3.
Freshman Kari Trautvetter also had a run-scoring hit in the third for the Knights, who meet No. 2 Lennard in Thursday's 7:30 p.m. title game. Senior Katelin Stephens had a two-out, two-run base hit in the first for Robinson.
4A-9: At Berkeley Prep, the No. 2-seeded Buccaneers avenged two regular season blowout losses to Tampa Catholic, prevailing in the meeting that mattered most.
Senior Elly Straske, sophomore Kristin Hoover and sophomore Cassi Mihokovich all had multi-hit games, while senior ace Jenny Weissman tossed a five-hitter in a 3-1 semifinal triumph. The Buccaneers face Academy of the Holy Names in Thursday's final.
Weissman, who signed with Washington University in St. Louis earlier Tuesday, allowed no extra-base hits or walks. Junior Francesca Lerner added an RBI hit for the Buccaneers.
3A-8: At Spring Hill, Seffner Christian seventh-grader Cheyenne Wright tossed a complete game and hit a two-run double to lift the second-seeded Crusaders to a 3-1 win against No. 3 Carrollwood Day. SCA faces host Bishop McLaughlin in Thursday's 5 p.m. final. Bishop McLaughlin ousted Tampa Prep 10-9 on an inside-the-park, walk-off homer after the Terrapins had erased a 9-2 deficit to tie it at 9.
2A-9: At St. Petersburg, Cambridge eighth-grade right-hander Alea White struck out 14, hit a solo homer and drove in two runs in a 3-0 win against No. 3 seed Bayshore Christian.
White escaped two critical jams to help guide the Lancers (17-7) to Thursday's 6 p.m. final against host Canterbury. In the sixth, with her team up 1-0, she forced a groundout and struck out two in a row after putting runners on first and second to start the inning.