After losing twice to Sarasota Riverview in the regular season, East Lake coach Mike Estes wanted his hitters to make contact against Rams pitcher Corrine Jenkins in Tuesday's Class 8A, District 8 semifinals.
The visiting Eagles did that, getting 10 hits and striking out just five times against Jenkins in an 8-1 victory.
East Lake (18-7) will face host Palm Harbor University (24-2) in Thursday's final at 4. The Hurricanes advanced with a 13-3 win over North Port in the other semifinal.
"We worked on our offense in practice the last few days," Estes said. "The biggest thing is we made contact and put pressure on their defense. The last time we played we had 17 strikeouts and we cut down on that a lot this time."
Brittnay Estes, Makayla Powers and Sarah Schutz each had two hits and Emma Hvozdovich had two RBIs on sacrifice fly outs to lead the Eagles.
In the other semifinal, the Hurricanes cruised in a game in which nearly everyone played. Torey Scott had a double and triple and Jessica Adams had two doubles for PHU.
Tarpon Springs defeated
In the 6A-10 semifinals at River Ridge, Tarpon Springs (11-12) was eliminated with a 3-2 loss to Mitchell (15-7).
Paige Davis delivered the knockout shot with a solo homer to leftfield in the top of the sixth, making the score 3-1.
Tarpon's Lindsey White hit a two-out, RBI single in the bottom of the seventh, but Mitchell's Madison Staniloiu got Andrea Faison to pop out, preserving the win.
Mitchell faces River Ridge for the district title Thursday at 7.
River Ridge's Amber Jones blasted two home runs and drove in five RBIs, earning the Knights a seventh consecutive trip to regionals by defeating Sunlake 13-0.
"I was in a little bit of a slump and I had some good hits now and again, but this game really pumped me up," Jones said. "Coach was telling me to wait on the ball and it finally clicked, and you can see what happened."
What happened was a 3-for-5 night. River Ridge (17-4) had 18 hits, knocking Sunlake ace Courtney Durbin out after 32/3 innings.
The Knights scored four times in the fourth and put the game out of reach with five in the seventh. Brittany Forisse went 2-for-3 with a walk and Jada Clemons had a solo homer.
Basil Spyridakos, Times correspondent