TRINITY — After losing two of its first three games to rival Mitchell, River Ridge got even with the one that mattered most.
The Royal Knights used a six-run fourth inning and a late home run by Jada Clemons to earn a 10-7 victory in Friday night’s Class 6A region semifinal.
“We got the biggest one,” River Ridge coach Ernie Beck said, “because we’re going on.”
The Royal Knights (19-5) advance to Tuesday’s region final against Lakewood Ranch.
Mitchell (17-8) started strong with a bit of luck. Cori Williams’ blast to leftfield bounced off a Royal Knight’s glove and over the fence for a two-run home run. The Morehead State recruit added an RBI single in the third to give the Mustangs a 3-1 lead.
River Ridge (19-5) struck back in the fourth. Amber Jones rocketed a lead-off home run to leftfield to cut the deficit to one. Kat Femino’s bunt tied the game, and the Royal Knights continued to rally with two outs. An RBI single by Melissa Moore, an RBI double by Morgan Tolle and a two-run single by Kenzi Maguire extended the lead.
“These kids can hit,” Beck said.
So could Mitchell, which climbed back into the game with three runs in the bottom of the fourth and another in the fifth. But Clemons’ home run and two insurance runs on fielding errors in the seventh sent River Ridge to its first region final since 2004.
6A: No-hitter lands Eagles in the final
SPRING HILL — Alexis Adams knows all about turning it up a notch, and her latest effort has Springstead going further in the state playoffs than the program has ever been.
The Eagles rode a no-hitter from their ace to a 5-0 win over Lecanto in the Class 6A region semifinals Friday night.
Springstead (23-4) set a record for wins and will be headed to the region final for the first time on the heels of Adams striking out nine and walking one in the complete-game victory. For the senior hurler, it was her seventh consecutive shutout, five of which were one-hitters.
“Some of the elite athletes have that extra gear they can go to when the pressure mounts,” Springstead coach Craig Swartout said. “(Adams) is one of those elite athletes.”
It was the fourth meeting of the season between the Eagles and Lecanto (18-10), a series of games that can be tough because of the familiarity, but Swartout was confident in his team. Adams’ focus was as good as it could get.
“The difference between this time against Lecanto and the last three times is that this was the region semifinals,” she said. “I am not ready to go home and neither is the rest of the team.”
After a two-out, two-run double from freshman catcher Brooke Fischbach staked Springstead to the 5-0 lead in the fifth, Adams was able to let loose retiring the Panthers in order in the sixth and seventh, striking out three of those six batters.
The no-hit bid was salvaged when, with two out in the top of the seventh, Springstead senior leftfielder Victoria Meese made a running catch in the gap to retire the 22nd and final hitter.
A: Region final berth a first for AATL
TAMPA — Academy at the Lakes completed its season sweep of Hernando Christian with a two-hit 3-0 shutout by ace Sydney Boynton in Friday’s Class 2A region semifinal at Live Oak Park.
“I kinda wanted to sneak something past them,” Boynton said.
She did, striking out nine batters and walking three to help her team advance to its first region final. AATL will host Quincy Robert F. Munroe Day on Tuesday with a trip to state on the line.
AATL (14-4) had plenty of girls on base but had trouble getting them home. The Wildcats stranded runners at second and third in the first, third and fourth innings before finally breaking through in the fifth.
Skyler Boynton’s lead-off pop-up dropped in the infield, and Sydney Boynton loaded the bases thanks to an HCA (16-7) error. A single from Rebecca Hannah scored one run, and the Lions brought home another with an illegal pitch. Brenna Walton’s RBI single extended the lead to 3-0.
That was plenty for Boynton, who retired six of the next seven batters she faced to seal the win.
The junior right-hander said the Wildcats have drawn inspiration from the basketball program’s success in the winter. The boys advanced to the elite eight, and the girls qualified for their first trip to state.
“We want to beat the girls basketball team,” Boynton said.
And they’re two wins away from doing it.
Times correspondent Derek J. LaRiviere contributed to this report.