Braden River used yet another strong pitching performance from Courtney Mirabella to defeat Dover Strawberry Crest 3-1 in the Regional 4A quarterfinals Wednesday night.
Great pitching outings are nothing new for Mirabella. After all, the nationally acclaimed sophomore averaged 15 strikeouts per game for the Pirates. But Mirabella began the game pitching not only good, but great. The sophomore pitcher struck out the first five batters she faced and had a perfect game until the sixth.
The Strawberry Crest defense however, struggled out of the gate. After escaping the first inning, in which Braden River stranded two base runners, the Chargers made a couple of key defensive mistakes in the second, an the Pirates quickly took advantage. Failing to get a couple of routine outs that should have ended the inning, Strawberry Crest surrendered the first run of the game on a single by Braden River’s Kenya Yancy.
Although they were facing a strong pitcher in Mirabella, Strawberry Crest wasn’t a team used to struggling at the plate this season. The Chargers scored 237 runs on the year. But after suffering through 5 hitless innings, the Charger bats came alive in the bottom of the 6th.
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Maria Garcia got the 1st hit of the game for Strawberry Crest with a lead-off double. Then, with two outs, standout sophomore Mia Fung singled down the right-field line to score Garcia and even up the game 1-1.
But Braden River didn’t take long to respond.
After a starting off the 7th with a walk and a single, a wild pitch by Brianna Alonso allowed for both runners to advance in scoring position. Then, Yancy came up big again with a RBI double to make the score 2-1. Then with a runner on 3rd, Braden River laid down a bunt but an errant throw to the plate allowed Braden River to add another run.
The two run lead was all that Mirabella needed, as she struck out the side to end it, bringing her strikeout total to 11 for the game.
Despite the loss, Strawberry Crest has plenty to be proud about as they reflect back on this season. The lady Pirates won the 1st district title ever for Strawberry Crest, in any sport. The future also looks bright as the team will be returning a large portion of their team, including freshman phenom Mia Fung.
“We knew how good Strawberry Crest was offensively,” Braden River Coach Doug Powell said. “We knew they’d start hitting a little bit, but we have Mia (Mirabella) and she’s been tough for us all year.”
Braden River will now play at Lakewood Ranch in the District 4A-10 semifinals on Friday.
SEMINOLE OSCEOLA 3, PALMETTO 1 -- The host Warriors are heading back to the Class 4A region playoffs for the third year in a row after defeating the rival Tigers (10-16) in a game that featured outstanding pitching by both teams.
Palmetto pitcher Granden Goetzman hammered a solo home run to left field in the first inning, but that’s all the offense Palmetto could muster.
“He put a good swing on it and I don’t know how far it went, but I think it’s still going,” Osceola pitcher Taylor Layner said.
Layner was untouchable after the first, striking out the side in the second, and finishing the night with 12 strikeouts and the one earned run in a complete-game effort.
Osceola’s bats came alive in the third. Goetzman walked the leadoff batter followed by a sacrifice bunt and an RBI single by Mike Bouribon.
With two runners in scoring position, Evan Hock lined a two-run single to right-centerfield to put Osceola (21-4) up 3-1.
“(Palmetto’s) a good ball club and they have some quality players over there,” Osceola head coach Stefan Futch said.
The Warriors will face Lakewood Ranch for the district title on Friday.
“We beat Lakewood Ranch when they played down here and we were swinging the bats pretty good that night. ... We’ll have to do more of the same if we’re going to win,” Futch said.
POLK STATE COLLEGE 9, STATE COLLEGE OF FLORIDA 8 -- Brad Dantzler and Bryant Elliott homered, but it wasn’t enough for the host Manatees (33-17).
Dantzler drove in three runs, Elliott two. Dantzler, Anthony Caronia, Roderick Shoulders and Brad Bell had two hits apiece. Caronia drove in a pair of runs.
-- Herald staff reports, The St. Petersburg Times contributed to this report