ZEPHYRHILLS — Craig Milburn let the hairs on his face start to thicken a few days before spring break.
It's a new look for the Zephyrhills coach, one that would best be described as a playoff beard if this were the playoffs.
With the district tournament next week, he might want to keep the razor put away after the Bulldogs' 4-2 win over Mitchell.
What Zephyrhills (16-6) needed was a breakthrough moment to break the tension that began with a shaky preseason loss. A series of rainouts followed and certainly did nothing to help loosen up the team. But maybe Bulldogs fans will point to Thursday's fifth inning as the start of something special.
"I've had eight or nine different lineups this season," Milburn said. "Tonight was something completely different. I haven't found something that clicked or got me excited. Maybe this is it."
Zephyrhills trailed 2-0 after Mitchell junior Olivia Kline singled to bring home Tenisha Dixon, who led off the game with a triple. Heather Mucino's single in the fourth drove in Courtney Stager from second.
The Bulldogs fought back in the fifth, seizing control thanks to four errors by Mitchell (15-8). Bulldogs senior Naye Naye Black scored from third on a Samantha Crews infield single to make it 2-1. Crews tied it after stealing second then advancing home on a series of throwing errors. Jessica Davis singled then scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-2.
Kline, who threw seven strikeouts and allowed four hits, appeared unsettled in the later innings. In the sixth, Bulldogs cleanup hitter Stephanie Hartman belted a first-pitch home run to make it 4-2.
Zephyrhills' Kaitlyn Hutchison had seven strikeouts and three walks and allowed two hits with two earned runs.
"I was real nervous the last inning," Hutchison said after one of the Mustangs reached third base with two outs. "I kind of threw some bad pitches late, but I trust the defense. They've been working well."