CLEARWATER — To climb back to the top of the Class 7A, District 10 standings, Countryside had to defeat Seminole, the team that knocked the Cougars out of first place this season.
It was memorable and painful, and no matter how Countryside minimized the revenge questions, those feelings surely exist. The Warhawks had handed the Cougars their only loss of the season via shutout.
“We all knew coming into this game we needed to win or we wouldn’t be happy with ourselves,” Countryside infielder Hailee Keisling said.
Motivation was not a problem Tuesday, especially with so much at stake. The Cougars got what they wanted as their offense did just enough to engineer a 7-4 victory.
The win gives Countryside (14-1, 7-1) sole possession of first in the district.
“We were sloppy out there, but we were still able to get the win,” Cougars coach Kaylyn Bayly said. “I was excited about the way we started, but we made too many mistakes. It was a little frustrating because we’re usually not like that. But we were able to put the ball in play and get the hits when we needed them.”
The story line playing out between the district’s top teams is similar to last season, when the Warhawks won the first meeting only to lose the next two, including the district final.
Earlier this season, Seminole’s Jennie Sittloh tamed Countryside’s offense in a three-hit shutout. This time, the Cougars got to Sittloh early, scoring four runs in the second inning and jumping out to a 7-1 lead through four.
Countryside did it with a balanced offense that had six players get at least one hit. The leaders were Keisling, Samantha Sharpe and Alyssa Queen, who each had two hits.
Keisling had the biggest hit, a two-run triple in the second inning that jump-started the offense. Keisling, normally a catcher, started in the infield because her knees have been giving her trouble lately.
“It hurts squatting,” Keisling said. “It’ll get better with time.”
The offense compensated for a defense that committed six errors, which allowed the Warhawks (13-3) to rally with a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh.
“It was a just a matter of not focusing on making the play,” Bayly said. “We were peeking up and bobbling the ball, little things that should not be happening. It’s something we can get corrected.”
Seminole’s Brooke Ours had a team-leading three hits, all singles.