LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Courtney Mirabella has had an incredible high school year, but she had one thing left to do in her final regular-season game.
The Braden River senior had to beat arch-rival Lakewood Ranch or, in her mind, her career would have been wanting. She split with the Mustangs this season and Tuesday night's encounter was for what you might call the Hatfield-McCoy shootout bragging rights.
Mirabella got what she wanted, pitching an 11-strikeout, one-hit in gem in Braden River's 2-0 victory.
"Last time, got them, it feels great," the right-hander said. "I did not want to lose to them on our last shot. The last game they got us on errors (1-0 Ranch win), and I said we have to win this one. It's definitely my favorite rivalry. I grew up with a lot of these girls, and I know the coaches."
Mirabella came into the game leading the state in strikeouts. She now has 246 in 123 1/3 innings while compiling a 0.51 ERA. The victory boosted her record to 13-3.
"Courtney is Courtney and I am glad she is graduating, but truthfully I love the kid to death," Lakewood Ranch head coach Tony Cummins said. "She does it well and does it right. We were making some good hitting adjustments late, unfortunately time just ran out on us."
The only hit for Lakewood Ranch came on a first-inning single by Shea Fisher. The rest of the game, Mirabella was unhittable. She threw 94 pitches with 70 going for strikes. The Mustangs only
other runner reached on an error in the third.
"All of her pitches were working. She hit her corners. The umpire liked it outside and we threw it outside. She made pitches when she had to make pitches," Braden River pitching coach Melissa Dowling said.
The Pirates (20-5) manufactured their first run in the first. Bethany Keen. Who led the Pirates with three hits, singled, took second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on two wild pitches. Braden River scored its final run in the sixth on an RBI single by Hanna Ryan.
The Mustangs (14-8-1) have been battling injuries and illness all season and have only had their starting lineup on time this season Cummings said.
They got a nice effort from Amanda Rak who came into the game with a 1.81 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 77.1 innings. But she had to be near perfect and saw her record drop to 8-6.
"We are getting a little bit healthier and thank goodness the sickness seemed to have left the team," Cummins said. "Jen Trotter is coming back (from ankle injury), but she is only eighty percent right now though she is giving it everything she has. We had strep throat and the flu that went through our team extensively for four weeks.
"But I am not disappointed by our record. We are number one in our district. The failure to execute bothers me and we did that a few times tonight.