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Tampa Bay majors' resilience sends team off to state

Tampa Bay Little League major softball girls proved once again to be a very resilent team as it came back from a fifth-inning deficit to clinch the Section 3 championship.

Tampa Bay overcame a 3-1 Bloomingdale lead to win the game 5-4 in seven innings.

Bloomingdale had the early lead after taking advantage of some walks and clutch hitting and led 3-0 after four innings.

Tampa Bay got on the board in the fifth when Dusten Minardi walked and eventually scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead to 3-1.

It was again Minardi who proved to be the late-inning hero. She doubled home the tying runs with two outs in the top of the sixth inning, bringing home Hillary Parsons and Tiffany Abbott and tie the game at 3-3.

In the top of the seventh, Camille Alfonso walked to lead off the inning and moved to second on Abbey Krist's grounder. Alicia Eddy came into run for Alfonso and advanced to third on an error off the bat of Kelly Glover to put runners on first and third with one out. Alexis Poida singled to bring home Eddy for a 4-3 lead. Parsons followed with a double to make the score 5-3.

"This team just knows how to play softball," said Tampa Bay assistant coach Matt Glover, who was speaking for coach Mike Abbott.

The insurance run proved important as Bloomingdale rallied in the bottom of the seventh.

Abbott retired the first two batters, but three consecutive singles by Jaime Carter, Danielle Riveiro and Maria Lavenghette cut the lead to 5-4 and put the tying run on third and the winning run on second. Cleanup hitter Melanie Laing grounded out to second base to end the game.

The win was even more important for Tampa Bay because the state tournament begins on Saturday in West Palm Beach. If Tampa Bay had lost, then the winner would have had just the one day off before starting the state tourney.

The victory over Bloomingdale is even more significant since there are only two major teams that play at Tampa Bay. Bloomingdale plays in a much larger pool of talent and is considered a powerhouse in county softball.

"These girls just pull for each other all the time," Glover said. "Most of them are 11-years-old and have been playing together for three years now and that helps them play as a team."

In other sectional tournament play, the 9-10 Citrus Park team advanced easily with a 15-5 victory to capture the section title. Their state tournament will play at East Point beginning on Saturday.

Bloomingdale's senior team survived to play an other day after defeating Orlando Conway 12-5. Bloomingdale must defeat Conway again tonight to advance to the state tournament, which also being contested at East Point.

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