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District softball: Palm Harbor University makes early lead stand up

The Hurricanes get their bats going in the first inning, hold off Alonso in the semifinals.

PALM HARBOR — Mia Buffano hit a three-run homer in the first inning Tuesday and that would be enough run support for Savannah LePain as Palm Harbor University beat Alonso 3-1 in a Class 9A-8 district semifinal.

After Alonso took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, Kimberly Singer led off the bottom of the inning with a walk and Sierra Snook reached on an error to put runners on first and second with one out. Buffano lifted a pitch to rightfield just inside of the foul pole to give the Hurricanes a 3-1 lead.

Alonso (11-10) threatened in the top of the second when Stephanie Brennan and Alissia Vega reached on infield singles, and Elena Dybiec reached on a fielding error to load the bases with one out. But LePain pitched out of the jam by getting the next two batters out on grounders.

LePain began to settle down in the middle innings and retired 11 straight batters at one point with 10 groundouts.

Alonso starter Kristin Kopp kept the Ravens close by pitching out of jams herself. The Hurricanes (19-7) loaded the bases in the bottom of the second, but Kopp got Faith Allen to fly out to center. In the third inning, Jalynn Ford hit a one-out double, but Kopp retired the final two batters to keep the score 3-1.

The Ravens put up their last stand in the top of the seventh. Dybiec ripped a single to left-center to lead off the inning, and Alexis Buchman grounded out to put Dybiec on second.

Annissa Quinonez added a single to put runners at the corners with one out. But LePain got Kopp to line out to first and Quinonez, who was running on contact, got doubled up to end the game.

Palm Harbor University will host Newsome, an 11-0 winner over top-seeded Sarasota Riverview, on Thursday.