April Lane played a part in her team's early woes and she knew it. But, like a savvy senior, she knew there was also a long way to go after the second inning Thursday.
Despite a fast start by Dixie Hollins, Gibbs was able to settle in and control the middle innings, then finish with a flourish in an 8-6 home victory.
The Gladiators (4-2 overall, 4-0 Pinellas County Athletic Conference South Division) had four runs in the bottom of the sixth, capped by a two-run single by the starting pitcher.
"Figures," Gibbs coach Rick Bose said. "That's a senior, that's what it's supposed to be."
Granted, the senior probably did not picture a start like the Rebels'. Dixie scored three runs in the top of the first off Lane. Amber Wood reached on a double to deep center, Elise Small was hit with a pitch and Christina Coleman reached on an error.
Christina Keller drove in Wood with a single to rightfield, then Small scored as the ball rolled. Another error by the rightfielder made it 3-0.
The Gladiators got two back in its half of the first with a run-scoring triple from Lane and an infield single from Amanda Ranieri.
The Rebels scored three more in the top of the second with an RBI single from Keller and a two-run single from Ashley Carr.
After those two outbursts, Dixie (2-9, 0-2) would not advance another runner to third the rest of the game.
"I knew that I still had the whole game to go," Lane said. "As you go along you get stronger."
Gibbs chipped away at the 6-2 deficit with single runs in the third and fifth, when Dixie pulled starting pitcher Ashley Smith for freshman Chelsea Sunseri. She worked out of a one-out jam with two runners in scoring position.
Sunseri could not handle the Gladiators in the sixth, despite facing the bottom of their order. Heather Swearingen led off with a double, then scored on Aisha Umar's single. Umar ended up at third after the hit was misplayed, and she scored the tying run on a sacrifice fly by Teri Standiford.
Moving to the top of the order, Michelle Newton and Kathy Haugh reached on infield singles. After a strikeout Lane, batting cleanup, delivered the game-winning hit.
GAME RESCHEDULED: The Countryside-Palm Harbor U. game postponed because of darkness Feb. 27 will be continued April 3 at Palm Harbor.
The game will resume in the top of the eighth with the score 0-0. The game had been called with pitchers Dani Hofer of PHU and Bree Spence of Countryside locked in a duel with 27 combined strikeouts (21 for Hofer) and one hit.
The district rivals' second regular-season game is at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Countryside and will count as the teams' conference game.