tampabay.com

Mustangs again fall short of title

By STEVE LEE
Published April 29, 2005


LAND O'LAKES - A night after mentioning the possibility of Mitchell's first district title, coach Scott Bisbe's postgame discussion centered on a letdown.

The Mustangs (20-5) settled for their second district runnerup spot and second playoff berth in their five-year history after Thursday's 15-3 loss to East Ridge (13-12).

Mitchell advances to Thursday's region quaterfinal as a visitor against the 5A-6 champion, which will be determined tonight at Lakeland George Jenkins.

Losing by the 10-run mercy rule in six innings came a night after Mitchell's 5-4 comeback win against Land O'Lakes, which eliminated the Mustangs in last year's district semifinal.

"(Wednesday) night was a very emotional game," Bisbe said. "They were just spent. To come out and do it two nights in a row is tough. They should be a little upset in losing that bad."

Not much went right for the Mustangs from the outset. East Ridge took a 7-1 lead on six hits, three walks and two Mitchell errors through two innings. And starter Carly Mitchell (14-4) was pulled after 11/3 innings.

"Carly had some control problems," Bisbe said. "She just didn't have it tonight."

Neither did relievers Ashley Stager and Jamie Case as Mitchell's three pitchers combined for 13 walks.

"We just couldn't find the plate," Bisbe said. "We walked in a lot of runs and we didn't hit the ball."

Fourth-seeded East Ridge, which beat three-time state qualifier and top seed River Ridge in Wednesday's semifinal, had eight hits and clinched the title with an eight-run sixth.

Twelve Knights came to the plate in that inning with winning pitcher Jenny Mixon (7-4) delivering the final blow with a two-run single.

Layne Spencer had two of Mitchell's five hits. She doubled and scored on a passed ball in the first, then tripled and scored one of two Mitchell runs in the fourth. Stager drove in Spencer with a single in that inning and scored on two throwing errors.

Courtney Stager, Ashley's sister, had a double and Tenisha Dixon singled to account for Mitchell's other hits.

The Mustangs threatened to at least extend the game another inning by loading the bases in the sixth on Courtney Stager's double, a walk to Dixon and Case's flyball to leftfield, which was dropped by Becca Schoenthaler.

But with the bases full and one out, East Ridge reliever Michelle Bruno struck out Amanda Graham and Ashley Ritz.