BROOKSVILLE — Hernando Christian Academy coach Ernie Chatman didn't let his Lions players know that they had clinched the top seed in Class A, District 8 when Bradenton Christian lost to Seffner Christian on Thursday.
He had hoped it would motivate his club when it squared off against the second-place Panthers on Friday. It didn't quite work, as Bradenton Christian ended the Lions' eight-game winning streak, 2-1 in eight innings.
HCA ace Courtney Riddle shut out the Panthers (8-4) for 62/3 innings before the visitors pushed across an unearned run on a passed-ball strikeout that tied the game. It was Riddle's eighth strikeout of the game — she finished with 10 — and she gave up just five hits. She had struck out 16 the last time the teams met.
In the eighth, Panthers cleanup hitter Rachel Brown got her third hit — a one-out single — then stole second base. She came around to score when the HCA shortstop misplayed a grounder.
Chatman doesn't believe that Riddle, an eighth-grader yet a team leader, will have her confidence shaken because of the tough loss.
"All losses are frustrating, I don't care who you are," Chatman said. "Courtney's shown that she has the experience to keep her control in these kinds of situations. If anything she seemed to get better as the game went on tonight."
Though the loss ends the winning streak for HCA (14-5), the bats are going to have to start backing up Riddle more if the Lions are going to go far in the postseason.
Hernando Christian had only three hits, with two of them coming in the first inning, when it scored its lone run of the game.
"We didn't hit the ball very hard," Chatman said. "We need to do a better job swinging at strikes."