ST. PETERSBURG — Northside Christian spent its season series against Shorecrest on the edge, winning close, high-scoring games.
So when the Mustangs jumped to a 5-0 lead after four innings against their rival in Tuesday's Class 2A, District 9 semifinals, coach John Anderson knew it was not time to exhale.
Sure enough, the Chargers roared back. By the seventh inning, Northside was clinging to a two-run lead. With two outs and a runner on second, Jessica Anderson struck out the final batter to secure the Mustangs' 6-4 victory.
Northside (15-6), the top seed, will host St. Petersburg Catholic in Thursday's championship game at 4. The Barons, the No. 2 seed, beat Indian Rocks Christian 9-0.
"A couple of the baseball coaches and players were yelling that we had the game after we grabbed the lead," John Anderson said. "But I knew it wasn't going to be easy. We played Shorecrest twice in the regular season and won each game by a run."
The Mustangs scored twice in the first and added three more in the fifth. The big hit came on Kathryn Brown's two-run double in the fifth. Brown was supposed to be intentionally walked to load the bases, but took a swing on a pitch that was within striking range.
"Kathryn was been hitting the ball well," Anderson said. "We were not telling her to swing, but it was a pitch that was just left across the plate. It turned out to be a huge play for us."
Shorecrest rallied with three runs in the sixth and another in the seventh. Hannah Smith played a big part, going 3-for-4 and driving in two runs.
In the other semifinal, St. Petersburg Catholic (15-3) jumped to a 5-0 through the first three innings. That was all the support Barons pitcher Kelsey Humphrey needed. Humphrey threw a one-hit shutout, striking out 17.
Kristen Zinge had two doubles and an RBI and Amy Anderson had two hits and three RBIs for the Barons.
"We got the win, but we should have been hitting the ball better," Barons coach Tom Fabian said. "We weren't getting our timing down and swinging at a lot of first pitches. We can't do that in our next game."
2A-9: Emily Winesett and Lindsay Eaton combined for a perfect game in a 15-0 victory over Lakeside Christian in a semifinal called after three innings because of the mercy rule.
The Crusaders (15-11) will host Cambridge in Thursday's final.
Lindsay Graves and Danielle Romanello each hit triples for the Crusaders.