TAMPA — After steam rolling through Class 2A competition, Canterbury was supposed to hit a speed bump in Tuesday's region semifinal against Academy at the Lakes.
Not only was it a game of teams ranked in the top four of the state poll, but a rematch of last year's state semifinal, which the Crusaders won by 10 runs en route to a title.
For five innings, the Wildcats held Canterbury in check.
It didn't last.
In the last two innings, the top-ranked Crusaders unleashed their offense in a 10-0 victory over No. 4 AATL. Canterbury (19-6) will host Orlando Christian Prep in Friday's region final.
"We were not getting the runs early, but I knew they would eventually come around," Crusaders coach Jody Moore said.
Canterbury (19-6) has been controlled on occasion — for a few minutes, a couple of innings.
Then things seem to explode.
Balls start finding their way into the gaps. The offense becomes unhinged — No. 1 hitter, No. 9 hitter, it doesn't matter.
Suddenly, the frenzy is on and every at-bat seemingly produces a score. It's like an adding machine gone wild, and a tight game becomes a blowout.
That is how Tuesday's game unfolded. AATL pitcher Lexi Kilfoyl, a seventh-grader, did not starve Crusader batters. She just served them table scraps, nothing they could really smack. It was an efficient strategy against a lineup that features four hitters who each have at least four home runs this season.
Canterbury got its share of hits, but the power hitters were unable to bring them home. Still, it was hard for the Crusaders to be too flummoxed considering how well freshman Kama Woodall was pitching.
Woodall finished with a one-hit shutout and recorded 13 strikeouts. The only Wildcat batter that gave her trouble was Laura Evans, who has signed with USF. Evans drew two walks and broke up Woodall's no-hitter with a single in the seventh inning.
In the final two innings, Canterbury got things going. The Crusaders scored three runs in the sixth before breaking the game open with seven in the seventh. Taylor Bump, who went 4-for-5, provided the big hits with a two-run double in the sixth inning and a three-run double in the seventh.
"It was a little frustrating because it took us a while to score," Bump said. "Their pitcher was throwing around us. We just had to stay positive and wait for our pitch. Once we started getting them we knew we could cream them."
In all, Canterbury finished with 15 hits. Kaitie Poland and Danielle Romanello each had three hits while Lindsay Graves and Miranda Posey each had two.
In nine games against 2A competition, the Crusaders have outscored opponents a combined 108-1.
7A: East Lake falls
TARPON SPRINGS — The little things made all the difference for Lakewood Ranch.
Taking extra bases, bunting effectively and playing smart defense served the Mustangs (22-7) well as they booked their third straight trip to the Class 7A region finals with a 3-1 victory over East Lake.
The Eagles hung tough but production from the bottom of the Lakewood Ranch lineup and savvy play at the top made the difference in the crucial fifth frame.
No. 8 hitter Denali Schappacher (two hits) led off with a bunt single that looked to be spinning foul but was fielded in play. Talli Sharp's sacrifice bunt advanced the runner and Jackie Schoff picked up her second RBI with a single to centerfield. When the throw home trickled away from the catcher, Schoff scooted to third base then hustled to score on Maddie Biggs' grounder to shortstop.
"Jackie's feet are magic," Mustangs coach Tony Cummins said. "She stretches singles into doubles and doubles into triples."
Relief pitcher Logan Newton (four innings, two hits) got two double plays behind her but met her biggest challenge in the seventh inning. Maddie Bertisch reached on a fielder's choice, Emily Stafford beat out a single deep in the shortstop hole and both moved up 60 feet on an infield out. The left-handed fireballer dug deep and struck out East Lake's pinch-hitter to wrap up the victory.
"One clutch hit was going to decide this game and (Lakewood Ranch) got it," first-year Eagles coach Kristie Delk said. "I'm proud of our team. I thought we hit well, but (the Mustangs) just found a way."
After Schoff's RBI double put the visitors on top in the third, East Lake (15-8) answered in the bottom of the inning. No. 9 batter Nicci Palumbo laced a one-out double to the left-centerfield fence and scored on Amy Smith's two-bagger down the leftfield line.
"I had the feeling in fall ball that we could have a solid team," Delk said. "The kids bought into the system and really put it together at the end of the year. That was one of the reasons I wanted to coach here: the tradition of winning East Lake has built."
5A: Lakewood ousted
After advancing to the playoffs and winning its first playoff game, Lakewood's historic season came to an end in a 3-1 loss to host Bradenton Bayshore.
It was the third time in four meetings Lakewood (15-12) lost to the Bruins this season.
In the first inning, the Spartans scored as Sarah Snell drew a walk, stole second, advanced to third on an overthrow and came home on an error. Bayshore countered by scoring two runs off three errors in the first inning and adding a run in the third.
Lakewood had five hits but base-running miscues proved costly.
"We had a few errors in the field and on the basepaths, which was uncharacteristic of us during the playoffs," Spartans coach Edie Shankle said. "But the big thing is we made history and it's something we can build on."
Times correspondent Chuck Frye contributed to this report.