Prep Softball | Palmetto clinches first regional bid since '06

Palmetto clinches first regional bid since '06

jlembo@bradenton.comApril 18, 2013 

PALMETTO -- Palmetto's softball team didn't celebrate a Senior Night this spring.

No seniors on the roster, no need for Senior Night.

Instead, the Tigers have a district championship game to prepare for and a regional quarterfinal after that.

They'll take that trade.

The Tigers' youth movement sealed such a deal Wednesday with a 7-3 win over Seminole Osceola in a Class 6A-District 12 semifinal. Palmetto (14-8), the tournament's second seed, plays for the district championship 7 p.m. Friday at top-seeded Lakewood Ranch.

The Mustangs beat St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins 6-0 during Wednesday's other semifinal.

The Tigers also qualified for next week's Region 3 playoffs -- their first regional berth since 2006.

"Our girls are really good and very talented all over the place," said sophomore pitcher Auria Mounts. "We're going to go pretty far."

Mounts provided the biggest blow of the night when she laced a 2-2 pitch over the centerfield fence for a three-run homer run that stretched Palmetto's lead to 6-1 in the second.

"I was looking for a high one, because she was pitching them low and was trying to get high to get a strike," Mounts said, referring to Osceola pitcher Katie Newman. "It was low, and I didn't think it was going to over, because it was actually really low."

Down 1-0 after a sloppy top of the first that included two errors, Palmetto scored twice in its half without the benefit of a hit. The Tigers loaded the bases on two walks and a hit-by-pitch and drew even when Mounts drew yet another walk to force in a run.

A throwing error plated Jordan Whitaker to make it 2-1, and the Tigers were in control from that point.

"We're young, but we've got a lot of girls that like

to play the game," said Palmetto coach Tammy Stinton, whose roster features 10 freshmen and sophomores. "We have progressed, and we've seen what their ability is. It's just a matter of putting it on the field."

Mounts struck out five but mostly relied on the girls behind her, including outfielders Whitaker, Britton Stancil and Sabria Bruton.

The trio teamed for seven putouts, including Stancil's diving stab that robbed Becca Bunday of a hit with two outs and a runner on first in the fourth.

"The outfielders, I don't know how many times I've probably said, 'Thank you,'" Mounts said, '"You saved my life out there.'"

Keeley Ecker had two hits and an RBI and Bruton scored twice for the Tigers, who lost 12-2 to Lakewood Ranch during the teams' regular-season meeting.

"I believe in my team and they know what they've got to do to win the game," Stinton said. "But it's one of those things...we'll see what happens Friday."

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