The only thing higher than Sammy Tyler's strikeout total Thursday was her pain threshold.
Pitching with a partially torn left quad, the Strawberry Crest junior grimaced her way through a masterpiece: 12 strikeouts, two hits, no walks in a 5-0 victory against Palmetto in the Class 6A region quarterfinals.
The postseason triumph was the first in the 4-year-old Chargers' history. Ask Tyler (15-1) how she managed to notch seven strikeouts in the first three innings and allow no baserunner past first, and she seems as baffled as the Tigers hitters.
"I don't even know how I throw on it, I really don't," said the Saint Leo commitment, a right-hander who drives off the left leg with every pitch. "I just have the heart to do it."
Tyler got all the support she'd need in the second when University of Florida commit Megan Reed singled, advanced on Aly Masessa's sacrifice bunt, went to third on Savannah Bradley's fly to center, and scored on an error.
Crest (24-2) added four more runs off five hits and an error in the fifth. Catcher Mia Fung had an RBI double, while Reed and Cacey Simmons added run-scoring singles. Every run provided a bit more pain relief for the Chargers' injured ace.
"Pretty much everything she threw was on point tonight," Fung said. "She threw everything pretty perfect. She didn't really struggle with any of her pitches."
Except her drop ball. Tyler said that's the one pitch she physically can't throw.
"She's coming out and she's pitching off adrenaline and she's doing great," Chargers coach Mindy Miltner said.
MORE 6A: Lakewood Ranch senior third baseman Amber Wimmer swung at the first pitch she saw and hammered a two-run double to center. Then she took a similar approach two innings later and laced a run-scoring single to center - helping host Lakewood Ranch to a 9-1 win over Sickles.
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8A: Everything clicking for defending champ
Apparently, defending state champion Durant has its sights set on two in a row. The Cougars dominated in Thursday's Class 8A region quarterfinal at Durant, defeating East Lake 11-0 in five innings.
"We're going for everything," Durant coach Matt Carter said. "We're going for the gusto."
The Cougars (20-8) turned a meager 2-0 lead into a romp that ended early due to the 10-run mercy rule by scoring nine runs over the third and fourth innings. They also had 11 of their 14 hits in that span.
"We're hitting the ball good; we're seeing the ball good," Carter said.
Kennedy Dean hit a run-scoring double in Durant's five-run third and saved her biggest hit of the season for the fourth. That's when she blasted her first home run of the year, a three-run shot, over the leftfield fence.
Durant took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on back-to-back RBI doubles by Brooke Freeman and Alyssa Colding, who also singled and walked and scored twice. Madison Farrell added two run-scoring singles for the Cougars in their big innings.
East Lake (17-10) mustered just three hits off pitcher Paige Davis but put runners on first and second in the first two innings. Both times, Davis got batters to fly out to rightfielder Caylin Delones.
Davis finished with three strikeouts and two walks in her short stint.
MORE 8A: Palm Harbor University catcher Claire Hamilton did her part in the Class 8A region quarterfinal at Palm Harbor, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs to lead the Hurricanes' hit parade in an 8-4 victory over Wharton.
PHU had to rally from an early deficit. In the second inning, the Wildcats jumped out to a 3-0 lead with the big hit coming on a two-run single by Meagan Bell.
The Hurricanes answered in the bottom half of the inning with five runs, the first coming off a double by Hamilton. PHU batted around and had six straight hits.
Wharton (12-9) never recovered.
"(PHU) is a great hitting team and they were able to get the ball in the gaps and make things happen with that one big inning," Wildcats coach Ashlee Cappucci said. "We struggled to catch up after that."
Staff writer Bob Putnam and correspondent Steve Lee contributed to this report, which uses information from the Herald.
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7 p.m. Tuesday unless noted
8A: Durant at Palm Harbor U., 4
7A: Plant City at Lake Region
7A: Freedom at Chamberlain
6A: Strawberry Crest at Lakewood Ranch
5A: Bayshore at Blake
4A: Holy Names at Mulberry