CLEARWATER — Three weeks ago, Dunedin was in a funk with three straight losses, the final one by a run against district rival River Ridge.
That loss to the Royal Knights, who were undefeated at the time and No. 3 in Class 6A, was a catalyst for the Falcons' turnaround. Since then, Dunedin had won four straight.
The winning streak continued Friday in the first round of the Lady Canes tournament as the Falcons took advantage of early miscues to beat Jefferson 2-1.
"We're playing really well," Dunedin coach Roy Silver said. "We're pitching and catching and doing what we can on offense to get things done."
In the second inning, the Falcons (8-3) got all the runs they needed. Tiona Hill led off with a single. Aubrey Ehlers followed with another single that was misplayed in leftfield, allowing Hill and Ehlers to score.
Ehlers, backed by a strong defense, did the rest.
"We're playing with a lot more confidence," Ehlers said. "I think the loss to River Ridge was a reality check for us. We knew we had to play much better and we've been doing that."
In their streak, the Falcons have beaten East Lake and gave Gulf its first loss. Today, Dunedin faces the Eagles at 10 a.m.
East Lake topped Tampa Catholic 11-3. Each player had at least one hit for the Eagles, who came in averaging seven runs a game. Ashley Bonalewicz, Hannah Roberts and Amy Smith each had three hits and Aliyah Andrews had two stolen bases for East Lake.
"I thought we swung the bats well," Eagles coach Kristie Delk said. "It was one of our best performances on offense this season."
East Lake's Diana Rayder had 11 strikeouts against the Crusaders, hitting .401 as a team.
The host Hurricanes beat Pinellas Park 15-9. Baily Wilson and Logyn Lilley each had two hits for PHU.
The Hurricanes (9-2) play Northeast today at 10 a.m. The Vikings (6-3) advanced with a 2-0 win over East Bay. River Ridge beat Lakewood 14-0, Countryside beat Sunlake 9-4, Plant beat Osceola 5-0 and Tarpon Springs beat Seminole 5-4.
Canterbury routs 8A foe: The Class 2A defending state champion Crusaders won their first two games at the Gulliver Slamfest in Miami.
Canterbury beat Punta Gorda Charlotte 5-4 and Miami Coral Reef — ranked No. 2 in Class 8A — 12-1 in five innings via the mercy rule.
Lindsay Graves was a combined 7-for-8 with two doubles and a triple and Kama Woodall and Taylor Bump each hit two home runs against Coral Reef.
"We were strong throughout the lineup offensively," Crusaders coach Jody Moore said. "I think we surprised Coral Reef with how well we were hitting."
Today, the Crusaders (8-2) face Ponte Vedra (No. 1 in 5A) in the semifinals.
EAST LAKE — Nothing makes a coach happier than to have a team that listens.
Northeast's Rob Stanifer saw his "win no matter who we play" attitude put to a stern test Friday when East Lake nudged across the game's first run on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the sixth inning.
But being three outs from a loss with fireballing starter Brad Deppermann breezing did nothing to weaken the resolve of the visiting Vikings.
"I was like, 'They score one, we'll score more,' " said Northeast starter Colton Tison, and his offense backed him up with a seven-run seventh, a 7-3 victory, a series sweep and the top spot in Class 7A, District 9.
"In years past, we had decent teams but just couldn't pull out wins," Stanifer said. "This year, they believe in themselves and fight to the last out and good things are happening for us."
That fight earned the Vikings (8-4) a 2-1 late-February win over the Eagles (9-3) despite just two hits and 11 strikeouts. And Friday, in the seventh, the first seven Northeast batters reached base and the pressure cracked an East Lake defense that had turned two double plays.
With the bases loaded, Angelo Terrasi's hit down the leftfield line scored Bret Maxwell (two hits, two steals) and Drew Vimond (RBI single). Will Condon scooted home when the ball eluded the leftfielder, and when the catcher's throw to third trying to get Terrasi went astray, the senior scored.
"I tried to do what I was doing all game, stay compact and go with the pitch," Terrasi said. "We were up all game. We knew it was going to be tough."
Tison struck out 11 in a complete game.
Chuck Frye, Times correspondent