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Citrus victory in close game is relief

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 11, 2003

Citrus needed a boost.

There's nothing quite like beating archrival Crystal River to do the trick, which is why Hurricanes coach Scott Waters was so thrilled with Citrus' 3-2 win over the Pirates on Tuesday night at home.

"It's a nice pick-me-up," Waters said.

The timing was perfect.

Despite having what Waters says is a team with the talent to make a deep playoff run, the 'Canes (9-6 entering Thursday against Central) have had their share of ups and downs this season. And they've struggled in the close ones.

Five of their games were lost in the final inning. The reason: errors and pitching breakdowns.

"We could be 14-1 right now," Waters said. "It's very frustrating. We've got all the components. It's just a matter of us coming together as a team."

The Citrus senior class has led the way, but Tuesday freshman first baseman Sarah Wilkins provided the heroics with an RBI double in the sixth.

"She has had some key hits," Waters said.

Citrus defeated the Pirates (11-4) earlier this season. Waters is hopeful the Hurricanes can gain momentum from their latest triumph. The district tournament is three weeks away in Williston.

"It was a big boost for our program," he said. "The girls were fired up."

Citrus plays host to Williston tonight at 6.

SLUGGING AWAY: After losing an 18-inning shutout to Springstead last week, the Lecanto bats awoke in recent wins over Central (7-4) and Hernando (9-1).

The Panthers have been led at the plate by junior catcher Nicole Maltese (.333 BA, 13 RBIs), sophomore pitcher Nikki Pontius (.347 BA, 8 RBIs) and senior outfielder Dani Sowell (.375 BA, 6 RBIs). With a two-hitter against Hernando, Pontius lowered her ERA to 0.28.

SMOOTH MOVE: To shore up the Citrus infield, Waters moved senior Ashley Worrell from centerfield to third base. "She's one of those girls, and we've got two or three of them, that do anything you ask," Waters said.

MEMORABLE EFFORT: In Springstead's 1-0 victory April 1 at Lecanto, Emily Eicholtz struck out 21 batters, and the 18-inning game was the longest in team history, coach Craig Swartout said.

Eicholtz faced 60 batters, allowing 4 hits and 2 walks to record her seventh shutout of the season. She previously blanked Clermont East Ridge (twice), South Sumter, Hudson, Lecanto and Central. Eicholtz and Lecanto's Pontius each threw more than 190 pitches.

"I told Emily, I've seen a lot of athletic events in my coaching career," Swartout said, "but I've never seen a more gutsy performance than each of those two girls put on."

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