SEMINOLE — There was a moment midway through its Class 5A, District 11 semifinal with Osceola on Wednesday when it would have been easy for Dixie Hollins to lay down its bats and call it a night.
The Rebels had just watched a 4-1 lead evaporate to the district's top seed and found themselves behind 7-4 after four innings.
Dixie, however, never stopped hitting. And by the time it was done, it had pounded out 14 hits in a 14-8 victory that secured its first region appearance.
"The kids just wanted it more," Dixie coach Lynn Keiser said. "I talked to them all week about not giving up, even if the other team gets the lead. We pulled together as a team."
No. 4-seeded Dixie (12-8) reclaimed the lead against Osceola (14-7) with four runs in the fifth. Brianna Geary drove in two with a single to centerfield. Amanda Boylson singled home a run, and a wild pitch gave the Rebels an 8-7 lead.
Then in the sixth, Logan Ambrester smashed a two-run home run over the leftfield wall to extend Dixie's lead to 10-7. For Ambrester, who missed half of the season with an ankle injury before returning a game prior to the district tournament, it was her second blast of the tournament.
Dixie faces Seminole, a 12-0 winner over Lakewood in five innings, in Friday's final.
Sarah Read had an afternoon most players can only fantasize about for the Warhawks (16-6).
She pitched five strong innings against the Spartans (12-7), allowing one hit and one walk while striking out four.
In her first at-bat, Read crushed the first pitch from reliever Tina Campbell over the leftfield fence for a grand slam. She finished 3-for-3 with five RBIs.
"It's one of the best games I've had," Read said.
"It feels good."
Class 3A, District 11
SPC ace delivers
TAMPA — Tampa Catholic did all it could to stay close, but a steady dose of Chloe Saganowich eventually proved too much to handle.
Saganowich, St. Petersburg Catholic's standout pitcher, was dominant, limiting Tampa Catholic to one hit in a 3-0 win.
SPC faces Academy of the Holy Names, which beat Berkeley Prep 8-0, in today's final. St. Petersburg Catholic (20-3) has beaten Holy Names (15-4) twice this season.
The Barons, who have won seven of their past eight games, had some difficulties getting hits early in the game.
Scoreless in the fourth, SPC got on the board when Saganowich hit a home run. An inning later, Amanda Kolonick's RBI single and a bases-loaded walk helped the Barons complete their scoring.
Rod Gipson, Times correspondent
Class 6A, District 7
Cougars squeak by
TRINITY — Countryside pounced in seventh when Ashlee Sismilich knocked a single to leftfield, scoring Ayanna Andrews from third base in a 2-1 win over Mitchell. The Cougars face Gaither, a 9-1 winner over Sickles, in Friday's final.
Andrews, batting ninth, reached on an infield single then advanced to second on a throw to first that rolled into the dugout. A wild pitch got her to third with no outs.
"She's just got crazy speed," coach Kaylyn Bayly said. "As long as she gets on base, we can do a lot."
Countryside (18-2) tied the score in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Gia Tomossone that scored Devika Chew.
Countryside freshman Alyssa Bache went the distance with four strikeouts despite coping with nagging injuries.
Izzy Gould, Times staff writer