VALRICO — For every walk Bloomingdale pitcher Lace Smith issues, the penalty from Bulls coaches is simple: five runs from one foul pole to the other.
Smith doesn't look like she'll be running any time soon.
The junior ace was nearly flawless Tuesday night, striking out 10 batters — while walking none — in a 2-1 home win over Alonso. The victory in a showdown between the top teams in Class 8A, District 7 keeps the Bulls (9-0, 5-0) perfect this spring.
"Try not to jinx it," first-year coach Mandy Schuerman said.
Jinxing the Bulls would be a tough task, as long as Smith continues to dominate in the circle and at the plate.
With two on in the first inning, Smith fouled off seven pitches before finally blooping a single to centerfield to keep the early rally going. Two outs later, Lizzie Jackson scored on a throwing error to give Bloomingdale a 1-0 lead over the Ravens (7-2, 3-2).
Smith's pitching was even more impressive. Four days after throwing a three-hit shutout against Newsome, she allowed only six hits to shut down a team that had been averaging 10 runs per game.
"There's not much better than her right now," Schuerman said.
Smith only ran into trouble twice. In the fourth inning, she gave up three consecutive singles, including an Allison Carroll hit to centerfield that tied the score.
Three pitches later, Smith rocketed a pitch to the backstop, but catcher Sammie Selden corralled it in time for Smith to save a run at the plate.
Smith came through again at the plate, leading off the bottom of the sixth with a single. Selden knocked a two-out grounder up the middle to bring in Smith for the go-ahead run.
Her only other hiccups came in the final inning. Hits by Carroll and Kayla Maxwell put runners on second and third with two outs. But Smith forced a harmless pop-up to seal the key district victory.
"It feels awesome," Smith said. "We want to keep it going. Hopefully we can keep it going."
Chiefs deliver for coach
TAMPA — Chamberlain was without coach Bobby Diez when the Chiefs traveled to Leto for an important district matchup against the Falcons on Tuesday.
The veteran coach was at home recovering after back surgery on Monday.
The Chiefs delivered the best "get well soon" gift they could think of: a shutout victory over the Falcons.
Chamberlain pitcher Olivia Dwyer kept Leto off the base paths by allowing only two hits in a comfortable 7-0 win.
"This is probably the first game he's missed in over 20 years," said assistant coach Tim Mouse, who took over in Diez's absence. "I don't think he would have let me come back to school (today) if we had lost."
Chamberlain (7-2, 6-1) took an aggressive approach to build an early lead. Leadoff hitter Lauren Williams (3-for-4) and Hope Hernandez both singled in the top of the first. Williams stole third base, then swiped home on a double steal with Hernandez for the Chiefs' first run. Later in the inning, Hernandez stole third and scored on an error.
In the third, Jenna Brownell singled home Hernandez after the catcher reached on an error and stole second. Brownell made it 4-0 Chamberlain when she scored on Izzy Ordorica's RBI single.
The Chiefs' one through five batters in the lineup had all seven of Chamberlain's hits.
"Our first five are usually pretty solid," Mouse said. "We're looking for the next four. That's where you separate an average team from a good team."
Leto (6-3, 4-2) managed just two hits, an infield single from Alexis Gutcher in the third and a seventh-inning single by Carrie Reynolds. The Falcons threatened in the first with runners on second and third and two out, but Dwyer got a strikeout to get out of the jam.
"Olivia hit her spots very well," Mouse said. "Our freshman catcher, Hope Hernandez, called a good game. And the strength of our team should be our infield. We're very surprised when our infield doesn't make plays."
Chamberlain cemented the outcome in the fifth after a bases-loaded error scored three runs.
Diez is expected to miss the Chiefs' next game against Armwood on Thursday and return after spring break.
Bryan Burns, Times correspondent