PLANT CITY — Durant's Nikki Giovenco is developing a penchant for late-game heroics in key district games.
Last week, she drove in the only run of the game in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 1-0 win over Riverview. In Tuesday's game against Class 5A, District 8 rival Newsome, the Cougars leftfielder made a diving catch to thwart a potential run in the top of the eighth before legging out an infield single in Durant's 1-0 win.
"I always get up with runners in scoring position," Giovenco said. "Somehow, I always pull it out."
Giovenco, who robbed Felecia Heaser on a shot that surely would have scored Catie Lytle, who hit a two-out single for Newsome in the top of the eighth, shared the spotlight as Durant rallied in the bottom of that inning. Brooke Freeman doubled off the centerfield fence, advanced to third on Giovenco's infield single and scored on Olivia Cuellar's chop hit down the third-base line.
Cuellar bunted the ball foul on a suicide squeeze attempt one pitch before her clutch hit. She squared up to bun again, but pulled back and chopped the ball down the line to score Freeman.
Durant coach Matt Carter called for the chop after the suicide squeeze bid went awry.
"It just didn't work," he said of the bunt attempt. "It's tough to do it twice in a row."
Durant improved to 9-0, 7-0 in 5A-8 with its seventh shutout of the season while Newsome fell to 6-2-1, 3-2.
The game remained scoreless through seven thanks to stellar pitching by Durant's Lauren Wolfe and Newsome's Bailey Schinella. Wolfe struck out 10 and Schinella fanned nine.
"She pitched a great game and that's what you've got to have," Carter said of Wolfe, who scattered four hits. "And our defense is tough. That's the backbone behind Lauren."