Two-time state champion West Pasco American emerged from the losers bracket to beat West Pasco National twice this week, earning a second straight trip to the Dixie Softball League Ponytail World Series.
Rebounding from a 2-1 loss to West Pasco National in an earlier round, West Pasco American defeated its rival 5-2 Monday and 9-1 in Tuesday's championship game at Tom Varn Park in Brooksville.
West Pasco American is one of 12 teams from the southeastern United States to make the Ponytail World Series, which starts Aug. 10 in Aiken, S.C. The local 11- and 12-year-old all-stars take on Alabama in the first game. Last year, Alabama thwarted West Pasco American's national title bid in the final game.
"We just jelled as a team," West Pasco American manager Steve Simon said. "There was contribution at every level."
Monday's outcome changed the momentum for both teams. West Pasco National entered that contest with five consecutive victories and West Pasco American was 3-1 at that point.
While West Pasco National manager Harvey Cassell wished his ballclub had advanced further, he was stoic in defeat: "I'm just glad that the kids got a chance to go that far. We all shared in the glory and we all shared in the defeat."
Pitcher Raechel Stockowski, 2-0 in the series, held West Pasco National to three hits in the championship game. Breanne Hill, who matched no-hitters with Stefanie Simon in West Pasco National's 2-1 win, took the loss.
Ali Bigger and Elizabeth Borgess each hit RBI singles to highlight West Pasco American's four-run third inning. That increased the lead to 8-0.
National got its lone run in the top of the sixth when Nikki Prack singled and later scored on Courtney Kline's sacrifice fly.
Borgess finished the game with two hits and three runs scored, and Bigger scored twice.
Simon went 2-1 on the mound, throwing a one-hitter in the 5-2 win over West Pasco National. Catcher Jami Williams threw out a runner at third base on a steal attempt in that game. Teammates Erica Ernst, Lisa Serra, Nichole Orlando and Borgess were the other defensive standouts.
National's top pitchers in the series were Bijal Parikh, Amy Cassell, Hill and Kline.
DARLINGS: West Pasco won this division earlier this month, shutting out Hernando 8-0 on Christy Karl's two-hitter in the title contest. Deanna Kiesel sparked the offense with a pair of triples, and Jackie Linville, Ashley Stager and Jessie Birchmeire each added a triple. Defensive standouts were catcher Dana Esposito and Carolyn Salerno.
West Pasco went 3-0 in the DSL's newest division featuring 7- and 8-year-old all-stars. West Pasco trounced Belleview 14-5 and East Pasco 18-2.
ANGELS: West Pasco's 9-10 all-stars took this series as well, winning four games in a row after dropping the opener. West Pasco topped Belleview 4-1 for the championship. Megan Fehley, the winning pitcher in that game, also pitched West Pasco to a 2-0 win over Belleview in a semifinal.
West Pasco had two shutouts in the tournament, with Carly Mitchell picking up the win against Hernando 8-0. Pitchers Michele McDonald and Michelle Pigott also won games.
West Pasco's offensive leaders for the series were Danielle Kiesel, April Slate and Mitchell. Catcher Jamie Case was behind the plate for all five games.
BELLES: West Pasco went 2-2 in the 13-15 age bracket. The team defeated East Pasco 16-9 and Mulberry 15-0 before 3-2 and 13-1 losses to Belleview and Hernando.
Pitchers Christen Seagles and Alexis Frey each earned a win, and West Pasco's top hitters included Jessica Williams, Nicole Sessa, Julie Gilbride, Teresa Hair, Jessica Kiesel, Jayme Johnson and Frey.