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Angels, Belles hope to advance

Two county teams are one tournament victory away from Dixie Softball League World Series appearances.

The West Pasco Angels (ages 8-10) have their sights set on a third straight DSL series, and the East Pasco Belles (13-15) return to the DSL state tournament for the first time since 2001.

Both continue their postseason runs Friday at 4 p.m. in state tourneys at Okeechobee. West Pasco plays Port St. Joe, and East Pasco meets Bonifay. Titles would send West Pasco to Muscle Shoals, Ala., and East Pasco to Denison, Texas.

West Pasco manager Tony Cherry said his team is not under pressure to extend its streak or match West Pasco's back-to-back fifth-place DSL World Series finishes.

"It doesn't matter," Cherry said. "All I look forward to is for the girls to learn and to have fun and be better players."

West Pasco outscored its opposition 57-7 in a three-game sweep to claim the District 4 title.

"The team we have this year is a better hitting team as a whole," Cherry said. "This year we're pretty solid. Everybody will get at least one hit a game."

Ace Jenny Karl starts the first game. Katie Horn and Dani Schulman, who combined with Karl on a no-hitter against East Pasco (a 35-0 win halted after four innings by the 10-run rule) in the district opener, also will be on the mound.

"Pitching's a big difference at this age, just to be able to throw strikes," Cherry said.

The East Pasco Belles pitching is impressive as well. Becky Land and Ashley Buntyn combined on a one-hitter in a 12-1 district-opening win over Spring Hill.

The East Pasco Belles beat West Pasco 11-2 for a District 4 crown. Two years ago East Pasco bowed out in the semifinals of that double-elimination series.

"It was just a neat feeling to see how proud the girls were of themselves," manager Randi Jordan said.

The last state champion from East Pasco was the Belles in 1984. East Pasco finished fifth in the DSL World Series that season.

Among the West Pasco Angels and East Pasco Belles postseason wins, only East Pasco had to rally. East Pasco trailed West Pasco 4-2 before scoring three in the seventh for a 5-4 win. Jessica Davis had a run-scoring triple, and Lane hit a winning run-scoring double.

Two other county teams won district titles, and one advanced. West Pasco's Darlings (6-8) and Ponytails (11-12) were district champions, but only the older division advances to a state tourney. That series begins July 17 in Okeechobee.

DIXIE SOFTBALL

STATE TOURNAMENT WHERE/WHEN: Okeechobee; Friday-July 16.

LOCAL TEAMS: West Pasco Angels (ages 8-10) and East Pasco Belles (13-15).

OPENING GAMES: West Pasco Angels play Port St. Joe Friday at 4 p.m.; East Pasco Belles play Bonifay Friday at 4 p.m.

AT STAKE: Berths in the DSL World Series starting Aug.

1. Angels would be at Muscle Shoals, Ala., Belles at Denison, Texas.

WEST PASCO ANGELS: Ana Alberti, Auburn Cherry, Hayley Davis, Jordyn Garcia, Sara Hill, Katie Horn, Jenny Karl, Melissa Morlan, Megan Qwasnicki, Alicia Schulman, Dani Schulman, Allison Seimer, manager Tony Cherry, coach Karen Karl, coach Lorraine Schulman.

EAST PASCO BELLES: Christie Brady, Devin Brooks, Ashley Buntyn, Amanda Clancy, Kayla Counsel, Jessica Davis, Brandie Fox, Becky Lane, Kayla Lynde, Haven Mills, Melinda Pratt, Bethany Wiltrout, manager Mike Mills, coach Tom Flannery, coach Jack Osterhaut

District 4 results

ANGELS: West Pasco 35, East Pasco 0; West Pasco 11, Spring Hill 1; Final: West Pasco 11, Spring Hill 6.

BELLES: East Pasco 12, Spring Hill 1; East Pasco 5, West Pasco 4; Final: East Pasco 11, West Pasco 2

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