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Softball| Region finals

Hillsborough: Softball region finals preview

Ericka Arcuri helps power the offense for Plant (23-4), which has a .418 team batting average.

\uFEFFBRIAN CASSELLA | Times

Ericka Arcuri helps power the offense for Plant (23-4), which has a .418 team batting average.

All games tonight at 7 unless noted.

Admission: $6

Class 6A

West Orange (25-4) at Durant (24-5)

The dish: Both teams are hot. West Orange has won 15 straight games; Durant has won 13 straight. How good is West Orange? In its previous game, it beat Melbourne Eau Gallie, which was ranked sixth in USA Today's Top 25. Durant is no slouch, either. The Cougars have a great blend of pitching and hitting. Hurler Sara Demuth boasts a 0.36 ERA, and the team is hitting .304. Durant has slugged 16 homers.

Durant wins if: Demuth holds the opponent to three or fewer runs; Durant has lost only once this season when that has happened.

Class 5A

Plant (23-4) at Venice (29-0)

The dish: The records favor Venice, but consider: Plant went 2-2 against nationally ranked Chamberlain, the team it beat in the last round. In other words, the Panthers can play with anyone. This should be a great battle of hitting vs. pitching. Venice ace Stephanie Sullivan has 261 strikeouts. The Plant offense, powered by Erika Arcuri, Grace Slone Collins and Hannah Ojeda, has generated a .418 batting average.

Plant wins if: pitcher Kayla Suskauer is on. In the playoffs, she has been sensational.

George Jenkins (23-4) at Newsome (20-7)

The dish: Under the radar most of the season, the Wolves are a win from reaching the state semifinals in back-to-back seasons. Since suffering a humbling 15-4 loss to Fort Lauderdale Archbishop McCarthy in February, Newsome is 18-3. For the most part, the Wolves have won with offense. They're averaging 10 runs a game, are hitting .348 and have 60 extra-base hits. Ally Ledenham, who has 37 RBIs, is one of 11 Wolves with 10 or more.

Newsome wins if: pitcher Ashley Stubbs delivers another gem. She's coming off a shutout.

Class A

Canterbury (23-6) at Seffner Christian (9-9), 4:30 p.m.

The dish: This will be a stiff test for Seffner Christian. Canterbury averages more than eight runs a game, while allowing slightly more than two. Seffner Christian, though, has some pretty good players of its own, starting with Nicci Hopps, who is hitting .661 and leads the Crusaders in most offensive categories. Jamie Cathcart, Ashley Schubel and Kelsey Schubel also carry averages of .400 or better.

Seffner Christian wins if: the Crusaders get an above-average pitching effort. The team ERA is 7.08.

Keith Niebuhr, Times staff writer

Hillsborough: Softball region finals preview 04/28/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 2:53pm]
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