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HURRICANES CATCHER ADDS POP TO OFFENSE

Claire Hamilton goes 2-for-3 with three RBIs as PHU sets up a rematch with Durant.

A stomach virus, as well as a week's worth of clinicals in the medical magnet program had Palm Harbor University catcher Claire Hamilton feeling a bit queasy before Thursday's Class 8A region quarterfinal.

"I had to see some stuff that was not making me feel so hot," Hamilton said.

But Hamilton gave little thought to sitting this game out.

"I just wanted to play and win this game," she said.

Hamilton did her part, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs to lead the Hurricanes' hit parade in an 8-4 victory over Wharton.

PHU (24-4) will host defending state champion Durant in the region semifinals Tuesday.

"The girls wanted this game bad to set up a rematch with Durant," Hurricanes coach Kerry Katchuk said. "That was the team that knocked us out last year, and the girls have talked all offseason about the opportunity to play again."

To make that happen, 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."

The Hurricanes continued to string together hits and runs, scoring once in the third inning and two more in the fifth. In all, PHU had 14 hits, including three each from Jess Adams and Logyn Lilley.

That was more than enough support for Hurricanes starter Rachel Taylor, who allowed six hits.

"I had one rough inning, but there was no doubt that we would come back from that," Taylor said. "I knew our offense would score and pick me up."

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UP NEXT

Region semifinals

7 p.m. Tuesday unless noted

8A: Durant at Palm Harbor University, 4

3A: St. Petersburg Catholic at Shorecrest, 4

2A: Canterbury at Southwest Florida Chr.

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