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TARPON SPRINGS - Ever since Rick Hohenthaner arrived at Gulf High three years ago, the Bucs have only gotten better.
On Thursday night at Tarpon Springs, the Bucs (11-12) got two runners in early and finished with a bang to defeat the Spongers 7-0 and advance to the final against No. 1 seed Zephyrhills, which beat Wesley Chapel 12-0.
"It has been so wonderful to watch these girls come up as freshman and sophomores," Hohenthaner said. "When I got here it wasn't good. We won one game in two years after that, and I wasn't any good. But they have stayed together through it all and have learned and have become great softball players."
Aimee Hayes (3-1) two-hit the Spongers in her complete-game shutout.
Gulf's Julie Wisniewski singled off Tarpon starter Christina Skulas to lead off the bottom of the first inning and came home on a Shauna Whitetree sacrifice fly to give Gulf a 1-0 lead, which they held until the fifth inning. Skulas (12-10) struck out five and doubled at the plate for one of the Tarpon (13-11) hits, but walked Devin Felman in the fifth inning before Wisniewski doubled her in for a 2-0 lead.
Gulf used three hits, two walks, and a Spongers error in the sixth inning to bring five runs home.
Zephyrhills' Ashley Anderton hit a grand slam home run in the first inning of the Bulldogs' six-inning win over Wesley Chapel. Caryn Allison blasted a two-run home run in the third inning for Zephyrhills' second of four homers in the game.
Zephyrhills has won both games against Gulf this year (5-3 and 5-4). The Bulldogs likely will look for strong pitching from senior Sara Johnson today as they try to defend their district title.