BROOKSVILLE — Even though Nature Coast reached the postseason last year, the Sharks struggled with was swinging their bats.
That problem reared its ugly head again in Wednesday night's 3-1 extra-inning win over Hernando.
Nature Coast (2-1) seemingly had a big advantage over the Leopards (0-2) coming into the contest. Hernando sent first-year varsity pitcher Jamie Jernigan to the mound while the Sharks relied on star hurler Ashley Antczak.
There was no way they could have known Jernigan would match the senior pitch for pitch. Jernigan (two strikeouts, no walks, one earned run) and Antczak (two strikeouts, two walks, one earned run) both pitched all seven innings. Nature Coast coach Mettina Couet pinned some of this on Jernigan and some of it on the Sharks' bats.
"We just came out flat and nonaggressive," Couet said. "It helped that Ashley pitched a great game for us."
The Leopards were within an out of the win. In the bottom of the sixth, the home team had runners on first and third with two outs before Antczak got Hernando's Shay Sanders to ground out to second.
In the top of the seventh, Antczak then took matters into her own hands at the plate. She drilled the first pitched of the inning off the wall for a double. The only extra-base hit of the game netted the go-ahead run.