DADE CITY — As they celebrated their 8-4 win over Pasco on Saturday, the Fivay players walked off the field thanking the softball gods: the ones who dried a drenched field from Friday night, and the ones who turned last season's district doormat into this year's district champion.
"Nobody expects a second-year program to jump up," Falcons coach Greg Bollinger said.
But Fivay (16-12) did, rising from a winless district season and 5-18 overall record last spring to knocking off the top two seeds and winning this year's Class 5A, District 8 tournament. The Falcons continued their success Saturday morning after racking up five runs Friday night before rain halted play in the first inning. Cristen Pruitt scored in the third to push the lead to six.
That was enough cushion for Fivay ace Jill McElderry, who pitched a complete game and added seven strikeouts to her season total of 154.
"She wanted the ball," Bollinger said. "Her eyes have been seriously locked in this week."
Pasco (18-5) began its comeback with back-to-back RBI singles by Jordan Lane and Sarah Burchfield in the third and another by Kelli Parker in the fourth. Pirates pitcher Emily Pennington struck out 10 Falcons to keep her team in contention.
Fivay tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh with RBI singles by McElderry and Ashlynn Johnson. "That was huge," Bollinger said.
After the softball gods helped the Falcons knock off the defending district champions, Fivay has a chance to make its turnaround even bigger. It hosts Dunnellon in Wednesday's region quarterfinal. Pasco travels to Tavares.