ST. PETERSBURG — St. Petersburg Catholic starter Allison Keen had to pitch through some trouble, and a little pain, in the Barons' 3-1 Class 3A region semifinal win over Admiral Farragut on Tuesday.
Keen got out of two bases-loaded jams and overcame a swollen knuckle on her right index finger suffered in the first inning to help SPC earn its first region final appearance.
The Barons (12-5) face Moore Haven in Friday's region final.
"I kind of ignored (the knuckle) and tried to work through it," Keen said. "It didn't really slow me down. It might hurt a little later."
After a scoreless top of the first, the Barons took advantage of an AFA error to score their first run. Anna Mixa led off with a walk and moved to second on a Caroline Carpenter bunt. Mixa then stole third base.
One pitch later, Lena Trehy struck out, but the ball was dropped by catcher Alexa Smith. Smith's throw to first base went into rightfield, allowing Mixa to score.
Keen was up next. She swung at a Corynn Miner slider and the ball hit her right index finger. While swollen, it didn't seem to slow her down on the mound.
Keen got into trouble in the third when she loaded the bases with one out. Maiya Fudge hit a sharp liner to first, but it was snared by Mixa for the second out. Sarah Schleich then hit a grounder into rightfield but was thrown out by a step for the third out.
"Those kids came up big with the defensive plays," SPC coach Tom Fabian said. "They were plays we had to have."
The Barons picked up a run each in the fourth and fifth innings. Trehy led off the fourth with a single. Paige Thiemann pinch ran, and stole second and third base. She then scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.
In the fifth, Trehy had an RBI single that scored Mixa.
Admiral Farragut (15-4) loaded the bases again in the top of the fifth. Fudge came up with an RBI flyout to centerfield. Schleich then hit a sharp grounder to short for the third out.
This was the fourth meeting between the teams. AFA won both regular-season games; SPC won both playoff games.
"It's very exciting," Keen said. "We've never been this far."
Rodney Page can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @RodneyHomeTeam.