BROOKSVILLE — In its first meeting with the dominant team in Class 4A, District 8, Nature Coast sent River Ridge the message that it could hang with the Knights.
On Thursday night, the Sharks rode the arm and bat of star pitcher Ashley Antczak to a 4-0 victory over previously undefeated River Ridge.
"We beat a really good team out there tonight," Nature Coast coach Mettina Couet said. "River Ridge is well-coached and has good hitting and good pitching. This is a big win for us."
Antczak froze the first hitter she saw, River Ridge's Madison Morris, with a strikeout on the inside corner and never looked back. She polished off a complete-game two-hitter with seven strikeouts and one walk, which came in the final inning.
"I knew that this team would be hard to beat," Antczak said, "but I had to stay focused."
The domination from the Sharks' senior ace wasn't limited to the mound. Antczak also provided Nature Coast (4-2) all of its pop at the plate. After River Ridge starter Ana Alberti walked the bases loaded with two outs in the first, Antczak drilled a bases-clearing triple into the gap. Her courtesy runner, Dana Mackiewicz, eventually scored the fourth run on a wild pitch.
The win could change the attitude for a senior-laden Nature Coast club. After getting off to a slow start, this victory was just what the team was looking for.
"The five seniors got together at practice the other day and said we needed get this thing together," Antczak said. "Hopefully, this is the start of that streak."