BROOKSVILLE — Through its first 15 games, Hernando Christian faced little resistance in a perfect start to the season.
The Lions' average margin of victory is nearly 13 runs. Eight wins were by shutout.
Class A, District 8 rival Bradenton Christian was one of the few schools to test the Lions through the early part of the schedule. The Panthers held Hernando Christian to five runs and lost a 5-2 decision.
In the rematch at Hernando Christian, the Panthers again held the Lions' prolific offense in check, but not enough to knock them from the ranks of the unbeatens.
Behind a two-hit shutout performance from starting pitcher Kala Thompson and three costly Bradenton Christian errors in the fourth inning, Hernando Christian swept the regular-season series with a 4-0 win.
"We were able to force a couple mistakes, and that was the difference in the game," Hernando Christian coach Ernie Chatman said.
The Lions (16-0) did all of their damage in the fourth with the top of the order coming to the plate. Leadoff batter Briana Hogan got the Lions' first hit with a single to leftfield. Kaitlyn Lowe laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached safely when the throw from Panthers pitcher Hailey Dearlove went into rightfield. Hogan scored on the play.
Thompson walked a batter later and another error on a sacrifice bunt loaded the bases. Ashley McKay hit a sharp grounder to Dearlove, who got the force at home but gave up another run when Thompson snuck home on the throw to first base.
A wild pitch allowed Holly Field to score Hernando Christian's third run, and Heather Drummond laced a two-out RBI single to leftfield to complete the onslaught.
"We played better today than most people would probably say that we play," Chatman said. "But I'll take it."
Staked to a four-run lead, Thompson and a stellar Lions' defense prevented Bradenton Christian (9-6) from rallying. Thompson struck out five, mixing an overpowering fastball with a knee-buckling changeup. When the Panthers were able to get their bats on one of Thompson's pitches, the Lions defense backed her up.
"I had a little trouble hitting my spots, and they got around on my ball," Thompson said. "I had to try to move it around more."
With the victory, the Lions wrap up the top seed for the upcoming district tournament.