Laura Helt knew her riseball was on, and so was her assessment of the pitch: "They couldn't hit them."
The Citrus pitcher has a way with words, and she had her way with Hernando, pitching a nearly perfect one-hitter in a 1-0 Hurricane victory.
Helt is 4-0 on the season with a 0.43 ERA as maybe the best No. 2 pitcher on the North Suncoast.
Opposing pitcher Casey Ellis was the only Hernando batter to reach base when she dribbled a grounder under the glove of diving second baseman Talia Gallant for a second-inning single. But she was quickly erased on the next pitch, which Tara Peterson tried to bunt but popped up for a double play.
From there, Helt rolled. She retired the final 18 batters and faced the minimum 21 in pitching her second one-hitter of the season. It was also Citrus' second straight one-hitter _ Gina Reynolds tossed one Tuesday against Gainesville.
"Laura had real good movement on her ball," said Citrus coach Larry Bishop, whose team improved to 12-2 on the season.
Helt, who also doubled and scored, got all the support she needed in the second inning. Three straight errors by Hernando shortstop Katye Altieri brought in a run, and Melody Fedor singled in two more to account for all of the Citrus runs. Hernando helped the Hurricanes' cause, committing five errors in the inning, while Citrus flawlessly handled each chance it had in the field.
"That's all it takes (is one inning)," Hernando coach Ernie Chatman said. "That's what's going to decide a softball game against the better clubs.
"They made all the routine plays, and we let her (Helt) get the lead and she pitched well with the lead."
Ellis only allowed four hits, and none of the runs scored off her were earned. Hernando drops to 7-4 with the loss.
_ JOHN C. COTEY