© St. Petersburg Times, published July 3, 2002
ZEPHYRHILLS -- The Hernando Belles (ages 13-15) thwarted West Pasco's bid for a sweep.
West Pasco's Ponytails (11-12) defeated Hernando 15-2 in Monday's District 4 final at the Jordan Softball Complex before Hernando emerged from the Belles losers bracket to beat West Pasco twice, 9-2 and 13-12. West Pasco defeated Hernando June 24 for the Darlings' (6-8) and Angels' (9-10) titles.
West Pasco's Angels and Ponytails advance to the state tournament in Okeechobee with the Angels beginning July 11 and the Ponytails July 18.
"I think we did great," West Pasco president Kelly Skulas said. "I just wish it could have been four out of four.
"But we wish Hernando the best of luck at states. We want someone from our district to take it."
In the Ponytails final, Patricia Dobraski, Carly Mountain and Christina Skulas combined on a one-hitter with 11 strikeouts and nine walks.
West Pasco spotted Hernando a one-run lead before scoring eight runs in the bottom of the first. Brianna Rish's two-run double highlighted that inning. Leadoff hitter Tenisha Dixon went 3-for-3, including a solo home run. She also stole five bases and scored three runs.
Christina Skulas also scored three runs and Kaitlyn McHale came off the bench for a pinch-hit single and scored a run in West Pasco's three-run fifth.
West Pasco's Belles opened the district series with Saturday's 13-7 win over Hernando, but were forced to play Hernando a third time after Monday's 9-2 loss.
"Our girls hit the ball right to them every time," West Pasco coach Karen Karl said.
The final contest was the closest of the three games and featured four lead changes.
"The whole game was a battle," Karl said. "That could have been anybody's ballgame."
West Pasco took a 7-4 lead in the first. Christy Karl hit an RBI double and Lisa Dobraski, Kristen Surrett, Shannon Zeitner and Jaclyn Linville added RBI singles.
In the third, West Pasco turned a one-run deficit into a one-run lead on Christy Karl's steal of home and Lisa Dobraski's RBI single. West Pasco took its last lead in the fifth when Heather Shenk and Aubrey Bruckner hit RBI singles.
Trailing 13-11, West Pasco narrowed the gap to one run when Erin Fogarty scored on Christy Karl's sacrifice fly.
West Pasco played the final game without one of its key starters. Amanda Graham, who plays second base and bats third, jammed a finger diving back to first on a pickoff attempt in Monday's first game against Hernando.
West Pasco has sent four teams to the state tourney in each of the previous two seasons. This year, however, West Pasco did not field a Debs (16-18) team.
Victories in the state tournament could send West Pasco's Ponytails and Angels back to the World Series. The Ponytails placed third and the Angels fifth last year.