ST. PETERSBURG -- She may be a freshman slotted eighth in the lineup.
But Susan Blue typically likes to swing at the first good pitch she sees. So as Blue stepped to the plate during the most pivotal portion of Bayshore's Class 5A-District 10 softball final against St. Petersburg Lakewood on Friday, Bruins coach Frank Luther had a feeling something good was about to happen.
Blue laced a three-run double to left with two outs in the top of the sixth to snap a scoreless tie, a hit that fellow freshman, pitcher Miriam Schmoll, made stand up as the game-winner in Bayshore's 3-0 win over the Spartans.
It's the first district softball title in nine years for Bayshore (20-4), which hosts Tampa Middleton on April 24 in a Region 3 quarterfinal.
"A lot of the girls have their rituals where they take first pitch or don't like swinging on the first pitch," Luther said. "I know (Blue) is one of the ones that do swing at the first pitch, so I kind of felt good about it.
"We've got hitters all the way through the lineup. It's just when are they going to come up with that big hit? (Friday) was her game. Whe came up with the big hit that we needed."
Bayshore's most important rally of the season began Thursday night when Marina Clark drew a one-out walk and JoJo Muldoon singled. But the game was suspended because of rain and both teams were forced to return to Lake Vista Park on Friday morning. When they did, Maddie Ramirez struck out and Ashley Perry gutted out a seven-pitch walk before Blue swung at the first pitch of the at-bat against Spartans starter Mariah Watts and cleared the bases.
"I saw it was right down the middle, so I just took a swing," Blue said. "Next thing I know, I'm on first base going to second."
That was more than enough for Schmoll, who struck out seven and allowed six hits. In 12 innings pitched during the district tournament, Schmoll struck out 19, walked one and gave up six hits, running her record to 13-3 and lowering her ERA to 1.48.
"My freshman pitcher was on," Luther said, "and with the defense behind her, all (we) needed to do was score and generate some runs. With that hit, which scored three, I kind of felt real good about our chances."
Blue was in junior high last year when Bayshore made a stirring run to a regional final. A year later, her swing helped bring a district championship back to the trophy case.
"It feels amazing," Blue said.
And well worth two trips in two days to St. Petersburg.
"I left work early and came back up here," Luther said while holding the trophy. "This right here makes all of that feel a whole lot better."