PALM HARBOR — The wild, whirling world of the Class 9A, District 8 season came down to a dramatic championship game Thursday evening — with some threatening weather throwing a subplot into the mix.
In the end — after starting the game more than 30 minutes early in an effort to complete it before storms thrashed the field — Newsome pulled out a 2-1 victory over host Palm Harbor University.
The Wolves (19-4) did it by scoring one run in the first and second innings, respectively.
In the first, Newsome leadoff hitter Bailee Leistl singled, advanced to second on a late throw, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored when Claire Ginder sent a sacrifice fly to leftfield. In the second, Newsome’s first hitter, McKayla Timmons, doubled and scored a few minutes later when Daniela Waldron doubled.
That was all the Wolves, including pitcher Mary Beth Feldman, needed. Feldman ended up throwing seven complete innings, allowing only three hits and striking out 11 to earn the victory.
Palm Harbor University (19-8) cut the gap to 2-1 in the bottom of the second when Mia Buffano smacked a solo homer, but the Hurricanes couldn’t cobble another run the rest of the way.
Overall, Newsome’s victory was a testament to the toughness of Class 9A, District 8, which featured four teams — Newsome, Sarasota Riverview, Alonso and Palm Harbor University — with 3-3 district records.
Newsome began the tournament as the No. 4 seed because the Wolves had the worst district road record. That meant Newsome had to travel on Tuesday to top-seeded Sarasota Riverview, where it won 11-0, before traveling to Palm Harbor University on Thursday to take the district title.
One of the biggest rewards was that Newsome now gets to host the region quarterfinal next week.
“This victory meant a lot to us for a lot of reasons,” Newsome coach Autumn Dunn said as rain began peppering the field. “This week made us overcome adversity and that should help us (through the playoffs). We are also so happy we don’t have to travel.”
Dunn said her team knows they have to continue converting the key plays like they did on Thursday, including a throw-out at third base in the sixth inning by Wolves’ catcher Lydia Castro and a couple of nifty defensive gems by second baseman Ginder and first baseman Timmons