NEW PORT RICHEY - Lizzie Kirby and Krysti DiMartino, inseparable on county softball diamonds, will not be splitting up any time soon.
The Ridgewood infielders, who came up through the ranks of the West Pasco Little League, signed athletic scholarships Friday with Pasco-Hernando Community College.
"They're all excited about it," Rams coach Jenn Molby said of her seniors. "They've been planning on that."
"It's a smart thing for them to do," added Ridgewood assistant and former PHCC assistant Steve Miller, "because they get a taste of what college life is like and they're not out of their realm. They've played in tournaments and fall leagues (at PHCC)."
Earlier this season, Kirby, primarily a second baseman, said she could not imagine playing on a team without shortstop DiMartino. DiMartino echoed that sentiment, adding the two might remain teammates after their stint at PHCC.
"It'll be funny if we go (together) to a four-year school after this," DiMartino said.
Both are versatile, with Kirby also playing shortstop and in the outfield and DiMartino pitching and catching.
Kirby is hitting .354 with six runs scored while DiMartino has scored 13 runs with six RBIs. DiMartino also is 2-2 on the mound.
At PHCC, Kirby and DiMartino will be reunited with former Ridgewood pitcher Breanne Hill. The freshman right-hander, who red-shirted because of a preseason arm injury, threw the only three perfect games in Ridgewood history and is that school's all-time leader in wins (50) and strikeouts (581).
PHCC (19-21, 3-5 Suncoast Conference) swept a doubleheader Thursday against Polk CC, winning 3-0 and 3-2.
ACE TIES RECORD: Last season, PHCC pitcher Shawn Barrett twice earned an honorable mention from the Florida Community College Activities Association.
On Monday, he took a step beyond those honors by being named FCCAA Pitcher of the Week.
The sophomore left-hander tossed a three-hitter in Friday's 5-2 win over Seminole CC. He allowed one earned run, walked three and struck out 15 in nine innings to improve to 5-4.
Barrett's 15 strikeouts tied a school record set by Frankie Sanders in 1995. Sanders is the only National Junior College Athletic Association All-American in school history.
PHCC coach Steve Winterling said Barrett's win-loss record is not a true indication of his ability.
"We're really not a good-hitting ball club," said Winterling, alluding to the Conquistadors' .272 batting average and 12 home runs in 37 games. "We don't have much power."
Barrett, who has signed with Mercer (Ga.), led PHCC last season in wins (seven), ERA (.349) and strikeouts (72). Barrett, scheduled to start Wednesday's game against Polk CC, has 83 strikeouts this season, second in the state to Florida Gulf Coast's Rich Villers, who has 100.
"(Barrett has) been the guy," Winterling said. "He's been pretty consistent and he keeps us in the game.
"The key is getting quality starts and he's definitely given us that."
PHCC (18-19, 5-9), had lost five of its past seven before Monday night's game at Polk. Josh Smith (1-3) was scheduled to start for the Conquistadors.