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Hernando's Ellis shines in shutout

Casey Ellis tossed her second one-hitter in as many nights to clinch the Class 4A, District 8 softball title for Hernando.

Coming off a one-hit, 12-0 victory over Zephyrhills in Wednesday night's semifinal at Pasco, Ellis allowed only a double by Julie Gilbride Thursday in Hernando's 7-0 victory over Hudson.

Hernando (21-9) plays at home Tuesday in a regional quarterfinal against the loser of Friday's Lecanto-Citrus game.

Hernando coach Ernie Chatman had his daughter Beth waiting in the wings, but never called for another pitcher.

The coach described Ellis as "a perfectionist."

"I thought she had good control," he said. "She gets a lot of ground balls and this defense plays well behind her."

The Leopards did not make an error behind Ellis (9-3), who had two strikeouts, walked one and allowed just three baserunners in another complete-game effort. Aside from Gilbride's double in the fourth inning, Keri Rulison reached on a two-out walk in the seventh and Traci DeForest made it to first on a passed ball after striking out in the fifth.

But Hernando did not outscore Zephyrhills and Hudson by a combined margin of 17-0 because of pitching alone. The Leopards' offense banged out 22 hits over two games and scored five runs in the second inning for the second consecutive night.

"We played very well for two days in a row," Chatman said, adding that the big inning, "helps the morale of the team. You're able to do what you want to do when you get some runs on the board."

Jessie Clougher (12-8), who also was pitching her second game in as many nights, got in trouble in the second by loading the bases before serving up Mandy Snow's three-run double. Katie Altieri added a run-scoring single and Kimmy Trent scored on a bases-loaded walk to Ellis. Only a nifty 5-6-2 double-play by Hudson (16-11) prevented further damage in that inning.

Hernando added two runs in the fourth on singles by Ana Mena and Ellis.

Altieri, Chrisey Hartley and Tara Patterson sparked the Leopards' attack with two hits apiece.