CLEARWATER — Palm Harbor University was well aware of Canterbury's recent move up to the top spot in the Class A state softball poll.
The Hurricanes just didn't know what to expect Friday night when they faced the Crusaders in the first round of the Lady 'Canes Spring Tournament at Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater.
Once they figured them out, though, the Hurricanes took advantage of crucial errors and used timely hitting to score two runs in the second, third and fourth innings to build a 6-0 lead.
Canterbury, which had seven juniors return Friday afternoon from a weeklong canoe trip, managed to score two runs late, but PHU starter Taylor Sabol prevented any more damage as the Hurricanes won 6-2 for their ninth consecutive victory.
"We had heard about them and everyone said they were better than they turned out to be," said Sabol, who allowed one earned run and five hits while striking out six over seven innings. "We were a bit nervous because of that so we lacked the intensity we should have had.
"We have to come out more intense from here on out."
After scoring two runs in the second inning thanks to some throwing errors by the Crusaders, the Hurricanes (14-3) began to break away in the third inning when Chrissy Tabulov and Moriah Connolly each had a run-scoring single off Canterbury starter Emily Winesett.
In the fourth inning, the Hurricanes added insurance runs when Megan Copeland and Lindsay Fenlon had RBI singles. Winesett gave up six runs, five earned, in four innings.
Things got interesting toward the end of the game when Canterbury scored a run in the sixth inning on a series of errors by the Hurricanes then put another run on the board in the seventh after loading the bases with one out.
But Sabol shut the door on the Crusaders with a flyball to rightfield and a runner thrown out to end the game.