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PHU outlasts Cougars

After the game, Palm Harbor University players did not mob the mound, shower the coach with Gatorade or partake in any other ostentatious celebrations.

Were they not excited to beat Countryside? Hardly.

Exhausted? Unquestionably. But it was the sweetest sort of fatigue.

The Hurricanes, ranked No.

6 in Class 5A, took down the previously-unbeaten No.

1 Cougars on Thursday in a marathon struggle that has become routine between the archrivals.

With a 1-0 win in 14 innings, PHU got to feel the tired joy Countryside felt last year, winning 1-0 games in 12 and 13 innings.

"It's good after a couple years to finally beat them," PHU senior Dana Hofer said.

Hofer knocked in the 3{-hour game's only run, tripling to left-centerfield in the top of the 14th to score Jessica Brinkman, who had reached on an error.

Pitching with the lead in the bottom of the inning, Katie Dobson was not about to let it get away. The senior struck out the side to complete a five-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts. She got stronger in the later innings, retiring nine of the last 10 batters.

"I guess my second wind kicked in," said Dobson, who took one of the tough-luck losses to Countryside last year. "It's a big accomplishment for us."

PHU started the game baffled by Countryside's Bree Spence and failed to get a hit until the fifth inning. But as the lights came on at the Cougars' field, the Hurricanes mounted several threats, leaving runners in scoring position in each inning from the 10th through 13th.

In the 13th, the Hurricanes knocked two one-out singles and Jessica Barbosa hit a grounder to the right side to move the runners to second and third, but Janine Palumbo lined to second to end the threat.

Countryside had several prime opportunities early, but left six runners on in the first five innings.

"We score early I think they're feeling a little sorry for themselves," Countryside coach Scott Kitchen said. "One of these times, you have to come out on the short end."

The win might prove to be much more than another midseason victory for PHU. The Hurricanes (16-2, 8-0 district, 5-0 Pinellas County Athletic Conference) all but assured themselves of a PCAC title game berth, and are now in the driver's seat in 5A-9 ahead of the Cougars (19-1, 8-1, 4-1).

The rematch is April 3 at Palm Harbor.

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