DUNEDIN - The District 12 All-Stars will play for redemption today against West Virginia at the Big League Softball Southeast Region Tournament.
District 12 was one win away from the Little League World Series in Kalamazoo, Mich., last year, but a loss to West Virginia in the championship ended their championship bid.
This time, District 12 needed a win over Tennessee on Friday to force a one-game showdown with its rival. After a few early miscues, District 12 pulled together for a 5-1 win.
Playing for the first time as a combined all-star team, District 12 coach Vince Ionata used the team's speed to put pressure on Tennessee early.
Christina Ionata walked to start the game, then Tara Toscano and Stephanie Seaman each had bunt singles to load the bases with nobody out.
Three ground balls helped Tennessee starter Kortney Gould escape the inning unharmed.
"There were some bumps," Vince Ionata said. "We had an opportunity to bust out in the first, but they (Tennessee) made some nice plays out there. We've practiced 10 times in the last week, but there is no substitute for a game."
District 12 starter Jessica Byrn held Tennessee to three hits over four innings for the win. April Wall and Joy Fuller both pitched in relief.
In the third, District 12 finally came through with a clutch hit to break the game open.
Toscano led off with a single and scored two batters later on a high throw from leftfield. Seaman then scored on a wild pitch to increase the lead to 2-0.
Seaman's two-run double in the sixth scored Byrn and Toscano to highlight a three-run inning.
"We didn't deliver until later in the game," Ionata said. "Small ball keeps the pressure on, but you never want to get out of your game because of the scoreboard. I knew we were going to break out sooner or later."
Today's showdown with West Virginia at 10 a.m. completes the pool play portion of the tournament.
The winner between West Virginia and District 12 advances to the championship game at 2 p.m.
North Carolina and Florida both won Friday and will play today for a spot in the championship.