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Business as usual

PHU's Dani Hofer throws a no-hitter, shutting down rival Countryside.

By MEYLA HOOKER
Published April 1, 2005


PALM HARBOR - It didn't matter where Dani Hofer threw the ball Thursday.

Chances are it was a strike.

The Palm Harbor University ace struck out 19 of 23 batters in a 5-0 Class 5A, District 9 win over Countryside (8-8). Hofer had to settle for a no-hitter after hitting the first batter of the game. She struck out nine of the last 10 hitters. The Hurricanes have outscored the Cougars 10-0 in two meetings this year.

"I knew they had great hitting so I wanted to make sure my ball was moving," Hofer said. "I wanted to do my job so that my defense could do its job."

PHU's defense hasn't seen much action.

In 56 innings, the LSU-bound senior has struck out 138 of 175 batters she has faced. Hofer, who has yet to allow a run, has allowed five hits and walked just one batter.

The Hurricanes (13-0) had not played in almost three weeks before routing Gibbs 22-0 on Wednesday, then downing the Cougars on Thursday.

"I wanted us to come out and pick up where we left off," PHU coach Chuck Poetter said. "We are starting to come around. That is bad news for other teams."

Countryside got off to a good start when Hofer hit Alleigh Kidman to lead off the game. Kidman got to second base with no outs, but the Cougars failed to capitalize. Kidman later reached base on a catcher's interference, but was again stranded.

"Dani is a great pitcher, but we have yet to challenge their defense," Countryside coach Kaylyn Bayly said. "(We) knew what to expect; we just can't make mistakes early."

Hofer (9-0) was 1-for-3 at the plate with an RBI. Jenni Brandon finished 2-for-3 and clean-up hitter Dana Bergner added a hit and scored a run for the Hurricanes.

PHU has outscored opponents 42-1 in its past three games.

"We want to provide runs for Dani," Poetter said. "She's so focused. She's the best I've ever seen."

Meyla Hooker can be reached at 727 445-4224 or e-mail mhooker@sptimes.com