WILLISTON - After Citrus' 4-0 win over archrival Crystal River in Thursday's Class 3A, District 6 semifinal, Hurricanes coach Scott Waters summed up the feelings of his squad when he quipped, "It's about time."
One can understand his perspective.
Citrus (17-7) lost to the Pirates at the district tournament the past three seasons - last year in the final. "I'm relieved," Citrus second baseman Mettina Maggiore said.
She can thank Hurricanes pitcher Megan Rall.
The senior allowed seven hits - all singles - while pitching a complete game. Rall (12-5) worked out of major jams in the third (bases loaded, one out) and sixth (two on, no outs). To end the third-inning threat, she struck out a batter and induced a pop fly. In the sixth, she forced a pop fly, then a double-play line drive.
"Megan did a great job," Waters said. "She did everything we asked of her and then some."
Citrus' defense was equally solid. The Hurricanes committed one harmless error but were otherwise solid. "They were there for me the whole time," Rall said.
Crystal River ace Emily Bayer (6-4) held Citrus to five hits and struck out seven, but the Hurricanes produced the few times they had runners in scoring position. The Hurricanes went ahead 1-0 in the third on an infield single by Alycia LePage that went just over Bayer's outstretched arm. Citrus added three runs in the sixth, one on a sacrifice fly to right by Ashley Worrell and two on a Pirates (13-7) fielding error.
"We just capitalized a lot more then they did," Worrell said.
LePage went 2-for-2 with a walk to lead Citrus. Krystal Boardman, Maggiore and Brittany Squire also had hits. Ashley Bullion and Alisa Tisdale had two hits each for Crystal River.
Citrus plays top seeded Dunnellon at 7 tonight in the final. The Tigers beat No. 4 Williston 3-1 on Thursday.
"I have a lot of friends on that team and I hate to see Crystal River get knocked out," Maggiore said. "But I'm happy to get some revenge."
Bulldogs, Wildcats ousted
For five innings, Zephyrhills had visions of grandeur.
The visiting Bulldogs led Bartow 1-0 in the fifth inning of Thursday's Class 3A, District 10 semifinal, and were six outs away from knocking off the defending state champion.
But Bartow scored six runs in the bottom of the fifth and rallied for an 11-1 win.
"We stayed with them," Zephyrhills coach Pat Moul said. "I'm very pleased. I'm not upset at all."
Added Zephyrhills assistant Tom Reese, "The pressure was on them. It's a lesson learned and an experience you can't buy."
Moul said playing Bartow close for most of the game with a playoff berth at stake will prove valuable for a team that loses just two seniors.
Zephyrhills scored in the first. Melissa Miller led off with a bunt single, advanced to second on Terra Rosensweig's sacrifice bunt and scored on an error.
In the other district semifinal, Wesley Chapel struggled defensively in an 11-1 loss to Mulberry. Dayna Glover (7-12) gave up only four hits but Mulberry scored nine unearned runs.
The Wildcats' run came in the third. Katie Timpone singled, moved to second on Brenna McHugh's sacrifice bunt and scored on Sara Van Buskirk's single.
Wesley Chapel (7-14) won two more games than its previous best season (5-21 in 2001) and reeled off a four-game winning streak.
"Seven wins and finishing third in the district, and having to play a (defending) state champion (Bartow) and River Ridge (a state finalist last season) ... it can't do anything but make us better," Wesley Chapel coach Tom McHugh said.