Gulf junior Madison Morlan pitched most of her team's region semifinal loss to Hernando with a torn ligament in her foot, coach Rick Hohenthaner said Wednesday.
"In a strange way it makes it easier to accept the loss. We would've been done without her," he said.
The injury happened in just the second at-bat of the game, when Hernando's Ashley Sims pushed a ball over Morlan and she got hurt lunging for it.
Morlan told Hohenthaner she was injured but was fine to push through.
"When she got home she took her shoe off, and it just blew up," he said. "It's amazing and it doesn't surprise me coming from her."
Morlan showed signs of being off her game, not striking out a batter over the last four innings. But she did have a single and reached base twice.
Nikki Sedivy's home run had Gulf tied with the Leopards heading into the sixth inning, then Morlan allowed Courtney Riddle's go-ahead two-run double.
"I told (Hernando) coach (Kevin) Bittinger, 'Do us a favor and bring home a state championship,'" Hohenthaner said.
On Wednesday, Hernando learned its region final opponent will be St. Johns Creekside, which improved to 26-2 with a 6-0 afternoon win over North Marion.
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Class 3A state track
Where: University of North Florida, Jacksonville
Admission: $9; parking is $8
Schedule: Field events and 4x800 relay, 1 p.m.; running event preliminaries, 4; running event finals, 6:30
Local girls qualifiers
Land O'Lakes - Hallie Grimes (400); Mitchell - Alani Alexander (discus), Claudia Cancello (4x800 relay, 3200), Elaina Cancello (4x800 relay), Emily Kerns (1600, 4x800 relay), Amy Murry (4x800 relay), Jessie Boykin (4x800 relay); River Ridge - Brittany O'Leary (shot put); Springstead - Wilena Little (long jump), Erin Blackwell (800); Wiregrass Ranch - Casey Chitty (pole vault), Hannah Eder (long jump, triple jump), Madison Conway (1600), Nikita Shah (3200); Zephyrhills - Scarlett Lawhorne (adaptive shot put), Aaliyah McKenzie (4x100 relay), JaKayla Jones (4x100 relay), Tyrhonda Mathis (4x100 relay), Kara Young (4x100 relay)
Local boys qualifiers
Central - Quadavis Battle (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles); Land O'Lakes - Kyle Forchion (high jump), Colin Defant (pole vault), Tyler Stahl (1600, 3200); River Ridge - Devon Jerothe (pole vault), Evan Bales (pole vault); Springstead - Bobby Harris (high jump), Ethan Kemp (shot put), Jai Jackson (4x800 relay), James Amodie (4x800 relay), Zackary Romblad (4x800 relay), Ricky Toth (4x800 relay, 800), Josh Page (4x800 relay), Bernard Ndedi (4x800 relay); Wiregrass Ranch - Ermias Bireda (1,600)
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Pasco freshman Craig can count Buckeyes among college offers
There has never been any question Pasco freshman wide receiver Nate Craig would be one of the top recruits in the 2016 class. The only question has been, how long will it take? Answer: Not long. On Tuesday, Craig picked up his third, and biggest, offer when the Ohio State Buckeyes orally requested he join the team upon graduation. Craig, a gifted 6-foot-3, 185-pounder who also starts at defensive back, has offers from UMass and Texas Tech. Last season Craig had 18 catches, seven for touchdowns, with 36 tackles and four interceptions on defense.