© St. Petersburg Times, published May 5, 2002
ST. AUGUSTINE -- Cassie Pearson hung her head in disgust.
The Crystal River pitcher blamed herself for the Pirates' 4-1 loss to St. Augustine Bartram Trail on Saturday, but anyone who saw the game knew she shouldn't have.
Crystal River's pitching did not keep the Pirates from advancing to the state final four in Tampa.
Its hitting did.
"You usually don't win a ballgame unless you score more than one run," Crystal River coach Lanna Hough said.
The Pirates (19-8) had one hit, a harmless single to center in the fourth by Emily Bayer, off Bartram Trail (29-3) starter Megan Medley. With an accurate arsenal, Medley (15-1) kept the ball around the plate and low, forcing numerous groundouts. Crystal River did not advance a runner past second until the seventh inning.
The Pirates' seventh-inning run was a gift, coming after a Bears error and passed ball.
"Medley did what she had to do to keep us off the bases and from scoring," Hough said. "We were hitting the ball but not into the holes. They had an excellent team. They had a good, solid defense and at the plate they made things happen."
Pearson (8-6) and Bayer, who relieved Pearson in the fifth, held Bartram Trail to five hits, but two fielding errors and five walks allowed the Bears to get runners on base in each of the first five innings.
Bartram Trail scored one run in the third on a single by Ashley Hill. In the fourth, Mallory Mitchell's single brought in two for a 3-0 lead. Danielle Weaver followed with a bunt single that plated another run.
"Our pitching and defense were stellar," Bears coach Jenny Harman said. "And the girls came through with hits when we had people in scoring position."
BARTOW -- Pasco's improbable playoff run ended in Saturday's region final against a team it couldn't beat in four tries.
The visiting Pirates (14-15) lost 8-0 to Bartow, the state's top-ranked team that advances to the state tournament for the sixth straight season and 10th time overall.
"It's a strong team,' Pasco coach Ray Carver said. "You've got to give them credit. They don't have a weak spot in the order."
Pasco, which lost the 3A-10 championship 7-2 to Bartow after dropping two regular-season games (11-0 and 11-0) to the Yellow Jackets, was done in by an error-plagued third inning.
Bartow (31-2) broke open a 1-0 game by scoring six runs on four hits, five Pasco errors and a walk.
"Defense: field throw and catch," Carver said, shaking his head in recalling that inning. "That beats you. Hits didn't beat us."
Alacia Stafford had a run-scoring double and an RBI single to lead Bartow, which won state titles in 1997 and 2000, but lost last year's state title game to Green Cove Springs Clay.
Pasco, which came within one game of the state series for the first time since 1994, was held to just three hits by starter Lindsey Littlejohn and reliever Ericka Jenkins.
Pasco catcher Heather Stroud grudgingly admitted she would cheer for her team's district rival to win at states.
"I wish them luck, but I wish we could have been there," Stroud said.
-- STEVE LEE