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Streaky Pirates focus on positives

Wins and losses come in bunches for Pirates, who won eight straight before the errors started.

By STEVE LEE
Published April 6, 2005


DADE CITY - With all the attention focused on Mitchell's season-opening, nine-game winning streak, Pasco snuck under the radar by following two losses with eight straight wins.

But the county's second-longest streak ended last week with three losses in a row for the Pirates. The hits stopped falling, and the ball seemed as if it had been dipped in a vat of grease.

"Everyone's gunning for us, so we can't give them an inch," Pasco coach Shamalene Broner said. "You can't let up no matter who you're playing."

The Pirates played Land O'Lakes last Wednesday in the first game of their string of losses. Pasco made six errors in a 6-3 loss.

"We had the domino affect," Broner said. "One mistake led to another."

And another, and another ...

Pasco made eight errors over the next two games, losing Thursday 6-0 to Crystal River and Saturday 4-3 to Zephyrhills. In all, the Pirates made 14 errors in the three losses.

Ace Brianne Farmer, a right-handed freshman with a 4-1 record, hurt her left shoulder against Land O'Lakes and moved to shortstop in the third inning of that game. Liz Garcia (3-4) finished that contest and pitched the next two games, but she was victimized by shoddy fielding and a lack of run support.

"She did her job. We just couldn't lift her up," Pasco assistant Lisa Herndon said.

That is where seniors Jami Pass, Ashley McSwain and Kara Nathe come in. As starters on Pasco's 2003 region-finalist team and last season's squad that advanced to a region semifinal, that trio aims to keep its teammates from becoming discouraged.

"You just have to learn from it and move on," said McSwain, a first baseman. "I think we've just had some bad games."

Pass, a leftfielder, reminded her teammates how badly they felt starting the season 0-2.

"We didn't want a long season," she said. "We wanted to pick it up and play our game instead of other people's games."

During Pasco's win streak, Pass added, "We were playing as a team and we were hitting."

A look at the statistics does not suggest hitting has been a problem. Four Pirates average .320 or better: Farmer at .500, Nathe with .447, Pass at .391 and McSwain at .320.

Broner and Herndon spoke last week of focusing, and Farmer, for one, agreed.

"We need to get a little more serious and the offense will come along," said Farmer, a travel-ball player.

As for the defense Farmer does not intend on looking over her shoulder for miscues. Nor does she believe she must increase her strikeouts to keep the opponents off the bases.

"We hadn't been making many errors," she said. "The defense is always behind me. I expect them to make the play, and they usually do."

Not dwelling on miscues, McSwain said, also could help the Pirates turn things around.

"If somebody makes a mistake, everyone encourages each other," she said.

Even with their recent run the Pirates are not as inconsistent as last season, when they went 12-15 but finished strong to reach the region semifinals.

"Never give up," Pass said, "because things are going to happen."

[Last modified April 6, 2005, 01:07:18]


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