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Hurricanes end skid in rivalry

It was only a regular-season game. Just don't tell Citrus.

After losing four straight to archrival Crystal River, the Hurricanes desperately wanted to end the streak and start one of their own when the teams played Wednesday night.

Done. Citrus' 1-0 win was its first over the Pirates in two years.

"Our seniors were very focused," Citrus coach Scott Waters said. "They showed a lot of leadership. And they let the other girls know this was a must-win game. Then they went out and did the job."

The Hurricanes beat Crystal River three times during the 2001 regular season, then lost to the Pirates 7-0 in a district semifinal. Citrus had gone 9-1 in its district, and was expected to reach the playoffs.

Crystal River won all three meetings last year, one coming in the district final.

"We owed them," Waters said. "It was tense."

Had it not been for Citrus shortstop Alycia LePage, the game might have gone extra innings. With the squads locked in a scoreless pitchers duel, LePage ripped a two-out triple in the fifth, and scored on a passed ball. The senior had both Citrus hits.

"She was big," Waters said. "She had been in a slump, so breaking out of it was good for her. (The triple) was huge."

The Citrus bats were cooled by Crystal River ace Emily Bayer, but Hurricanes hurler Megan Rall matched Bayer pitch for pitch. And Citrus had strong defensive play.

"It was a good game," Waters said. "Megan did exactly what we needed to do. She was focused. The defense held up its end, and Megan did her job. It was a total team effort."

The rematch is April 8. The teams also could play in the district tournament. Citrus was 5-2 before Thursday's game at Belleview. Crystal River is 3-3.

WALKIN' THE WALK: In Tuesday's 28-13 loss to Orlando Lutheran, Seven Rivers Christian pitchers walked 25 batters and hit three more. Lutheran had 16 walks.

The game started at 4 p.m. It was dark, and the lights were on when it ended.

"It was pretty bad," Warriors coach Bonnie Zeiss said. "It went on for a long time."

Zeiss hopes to find a pitching coach for her young players to work with. One positive note from that game: Erica DeLoach and Katie Amesbury each had two hits.

Seven Rivers was 0-4 before Thursday's game against Cedar Key but could have been 1-3 had it not been for some bad luck. The Warriors led Orlando Lutheran 19-15 after 6{ innings last week, but the game could not be completed because Lutheran's field is without lights. By rule, the seventh inning was voided and Orlando Lutheran was awarded the victory because it led 15-13 after the sixth.

"It was pretty disappointing," Zeiss said. "The inning before we got three up, three down. But the girls took it well."

_ KEITH NIEBUHR

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