Countryside's Casey Doering had everything going for her Wednesday night at Bomber Stadium. Pitching in front of junior college coaches who were scouting her, the senior had a no-hitter and struck out five.
The only thing she didn't have was the win.
With the game scoreless going into the bottom of the sixth inning, Doering, who retired 14 Clearwater batters in a row, was vexed by her infield.
Jessica Paulk bunted and reached base on a throw that sailed into the outfield. Paulk took advantage of the error and, as Countryside was chasing the ball down, slid home safely to give the Tornadoes a 1-0 victory in the semifinals of the Class 5A, District 9 tournament.
Clearwater starter Kristen Keyes was equally effective. She pitched a four-hitter and struck out eight for the victory.
The Tornadoes, who have made the regional quarterfinals three of the past four years, meet Seminole in Friday's final at 6.
Playing Pinellas Park in the earlier semifinal game, the Warhawks watched the Patriots wipe away their five-run lead. Desperately needing a boost, Seminole got it when Jamie Campbell batted in the bottom of the fifth inning.
With none out and the bases loaded, Campbell gave her team momentum, even if it took more than a few swings. After fouling off repeatedly to stay alive, Campbell connected on a pitch and sent it deep to centerfield.
Although it was caught, the sacrifice fly brought home Holly Groves with the winning run as the Warhawks atoned for eight years of district futility with an 11-7 victory.
"The drought is over," said Seminole coach Mark DeRuzzo, whose team made the playoffs for the first time since 1990. "The girls finally have that monkey off their back."
6A-5: Eagles eliminated
TAMPA _ A sixth-inning comeback by Leto ended the season for East Lake, as the Falcons held on to defeat the Eagles 6-5 at Gaither.
Leto used five singles and two triples to rally from a 5-2 deficit. Michelle Bay (8-9) surrendered the winning run to Leto pitcher Natisha Bailey, who drove in Lauren Ferreiro on an infield hit to shortstop.
"There was one hit too many, said East Lake coach Darius Holtzclaw, who guided the squad to a 13-10 record. "They're a good ballclub, but that (sixth) inning cost us."
East Lake started the scoring with one run in the first and three in the second.
After two Leto errors put runners on base, catcher Brianne Greeley made the defense pay for the mistakes with a triple. She went on to score the third run in dramatic fashion, sliding between the catcher's legs after tagging on a fly to centerfield.
_ JOE HUMPHREY
3A-9: SPC, CCC ousted
TAMPA _ The mercy rule was created for games like this. Academy of Holy Names defeated an obviously overmatched St. Petersburg Catholic squad 17-0 in the first round at AHN.
AHN meets Berkeley Prep, a 7-6 winner over Clearwater Central Catholic, in Friday's championship game at 4 p.m.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning, AHN batted around in each of its next three innings, scoring five runs in the second, six in the third and five in the fifth.
SPC coach Tommy Fabian, who had only nine girls on his roster and was forced to play four girls at positions they had never played, said there wasn't much his team could do.
"We knew coming in they had a good team," he said. "But with only nine players, we knew we couldn't play with them today."
The Barons committed eight errors and couldn't generate any offense against AHN's Kristen Koehler (4-0), who allowed just one hit while striking out eight in five innings.
AHN coach William Garcia said his team was focused coming into the game.
"We didn't celebrate at all after the game," he said. "We didn't act like we just won the World Series. We know the big game is coming up on Friday."
Berkeley survived several scares. CCC loaded the bases in the first and third innings but scored only once.
Berkeley scored four in the first, two in the second and one in the fourth, which proved to be the difference after CCC rallied for four in the sixth.
_ KEITH PEARLMAN