The stretch of zeroes on the scoreboard extended through six innings as Freedom and Countryside, teams known for offense, had trouble manufacturing runs in Wednesday's Class 7A region quarterfinal.
It appeared to be more of the same in the seventh as the Patriots led off the inning with two straight outs.
Then the offense came together.
Kayla Maczuga, a pinch hitter, started things off with a single. That was followed by a single from Ashley Wilson. Rachel Carlson followed with another single.
By the time the top of the inning was over, Freedom had put together five straight singles, scored two runs and held on for a 2-0 victory, its first in the postseason.
"The girls worked hard, and we made a few adjustments," Patriots coach Autum Hernandez said. "Our bats started a little slow, but we continued to put the ball in play and we were able to get those two big runs in the seventh."
Maddy Hall, a freshman, had the winning hit, a single off a full count that scored Maczuga. Caitlin Parker followed with a single that brought home Wilson to give Freedom (19-3) more breathing room.
"I basically was just looking to make contact," Hall said. "When it got to a full count, that's really when the jitters started coming out. I'm just glad I was able to get the hit. It was big. Real big."
The Cougars (24-4) had six hits and runners in scoring position three times but could not score.
* * *
Stellar pitching, defense lift Chiefs
TAMPA - Rachel Dwyer wants to be a doctor one day. She already knows how to operate with the pressure on.
Dwyer, a senior who will attend the University of Virginia in the fall, hurled a three-hit shutout and received plenty of defensive help as defending state champion Chamberlain knocked off St. Petersburg 5-0 in a Class 7A region quarterfinal.
The Chiefs (21-7) will face Freedom, a 2-0 winner against Countryside, on Tuesday.
St. Petersburg (16-7), playing its first region quarterfinal since 1998, couldn't overcome jitters. Four infield errors led to four unearned runs and Dwyer hardly broke a sweat.
Dwyer (16-6) struck out five and threw only 78 pitches as the Chiefs' defense sparkled. Her teammates handled 16 of 17 fielding chances flawlessly, all but one in the infield.
"I have a lot of faith in my defense," Dwyer said. "Coach (Bob Diez) always tells me to get 21 groundballs and we'll be good."
Chamberlain scored the only run it needed with two out in the first. Lindsey Hagberg doubled, and courtesy runner Kelsi Mays scored when Jenna Brownell reached on an error. The Chiefs added unearned runs in the second and fourth, and another one to cap a two-run fifth.
"We're a young team, we came in and played tight at the beginning of the game, and we didn't settle down," St. Petersburg coach Don McNally said. "From where we started from fall ball to today, it's unbelievable."
Lauren Holbrook and Hagberg each had two hits.
Don Jensen, Times correspondent