BROOKSVILLE — After a long day of softball at the Leopard Slam featuring several of the state's premiere programs, two bay area teams find themselves in today's semifinals.
Hernando battled through Friday and will play Citrus, while River Ridge advanced to face Plantation American Heritage for a berth in tonight's title game.
The path to this morning's 11 a.m. semifinal was simple for the Royal Knights (14-1), the defending champions at this event. Morgan Tolle blasted her fifth home run of the season and added four RBIs in River Ridge's 8-0 opening-round victory over The Villages (11-4). Royal Knights pitchers Makenzie Goluba and Anessa Holes combined on the three-hit shutout.
In the quarterfinals against Belleview (11-4), River Ridge was on the offensive again in a 10-2 victory. Goluba earned her second win of the day and 14th of the year despite not being as sharp as earlier. She struck out only two in the complete game, scattering 10 hits and two earned runs.
"I didn't have my best stuff, but I tried to keep the ball where I could let my defense help me out," Goluba said. "(Producing at the plate) is so important when I'm not doing the best I can out there on the mound because I really want to stay focused on the game and contribute."
Goluba was a force at the plate, going 2-for-2 with two doubles and four RBIs. Kenzi Maguire, the team's leading hitter, was 3-for-3 with a walk, an inside-the-park homer and three runs scored. Maguire is now hitting almost .700 this season.
Citrus (13-3) may have been the most impressive team of the first day, handing both Mitchell (14-1) and Nature Coast (13-1) their first losses of the season. The Mustangs fell 4-1 to the Hurricanes in the first round.
Hurricanes ace Amy Abramowich matched up with Nature Coast's freshman phenom Abbey Primavera for a classic pitchers' duel. Citrus emerged with a 2-1 victory to advance.
Courtney Riddle, who picked up her 12th and 13th wins Friday, tossed four innings of one-run ball in Hernando's 11-1 quarterfinal win over Lecanto. The host Leopards (13-1) took advantage of a plethora of errors by the Panthers to reach today's 11:30 a.m. semifinal.
"We always try to put together a tough field," Hernando coach Kevin Bittinger said. "I think we did that again this year, and I've been impressed with the teams that are here."
An early 9-2 victory over Mount Dora Bible put Hernando in position to reach the championship game of its home tournament for the first time since losing 4-0 to University School of Nova Southeastern in the inaugural event in 2012.