Sharks no match for county foe Leopards

Published March 4, 2006

BROOKSVILLE - Goliath no-hit David on Friday night.

Nature Coast Tech (0-8, 0-6 Class 4A, District 8) showed up at Tom Varn Park, home of Hernando (7-2, 5-2), winless. The Sharks also left that way, falling subject to Hernando ace Ari Lowman's first-ever no-hitter 11-1.

Hernando, widely regarded as the best team in the Hernando County Athletic Conference, started somewhat slowly. The first three hitters went down in order in the first inning, but the lineup exploded in the second against pitcher Deven McLaughlin (0-7). The Leopards scored eight runs in the frame.

It also helped that Lowman (4-2) pitched a complete game of stellar ball, allowing only three walks. She finished with seven strikeouts.

"Ari showed why she's one of the best pitchers in the area tonight," Hernando coach Kevin Bittinger said. "She was strong from the first pitch on."

Hernando's Katelyn Vanderham was the hitting star of the game. Vanderham went 2-for-2 with two walks (one intentional), a double, a triple, three runs scored and one RBI. Both of her extra-base hits came in the second inning as her team hit around.

Brittany Bishop also was a force at the plate for Hernando. She went 3-for-3 with three singles, one RBI and one run scored.

After Hernando chipped in one run in the fourth and two in the fifth, the game was called after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.

With the victory, Hernando has outscored opponents 25-9 in conference play and moves to 3-0.

Crystal River steals one from Lecanto

LECANTO - Ashley Clark stole five bases, drove in a pair of runs and scored one in leading Crystal River to a 7-3 Class 4A, District 6 victory over Lecanto.

Pirates pitcher Cassidy Rash (5-2) held Lecanto (3-4 overall, 2-4 district, 0-2 in county) to six hits, walked three, hit one batter and struck out seven. Lecanto's Christina Hollbach (2-4) took the loss for the Panthers. Crystal River moves to 6-3 overall, 5-1 in district play and 2-0 in county play.

Clark had two of her team's 11 hits. Sarah Wilkins was 3-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI. Quincy Wilson was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run. Katelyn McNally tripled and scored two runs.

Clark led off the three-run first inning with a walk. She then stole second. Wilkins singled. Rash reached on an error as Clark scored. Wilkins scored on a passed ball and Rash scored on Wilson's sacrifice fly.

Clark was following her coach's directions in her base thefts.

"(Crystal River coach Justin Wentworth) gave me the sign every time, so I went," Clark said. "We came out here to get a rip on the ball."

Wilkins singled in Brittany Cummins in the second inning. Wilson singled, stole second and third and scored on an error in the third inning. McNally walked and scored on Clark's single in the fourth inning.

McNally tripled to deep center and scored on Clark's second RBI in the fifth.

Lecanto put a run on the board in the second inning. Sara Bargiel walked and scored on Jamie Girdwain's triple. Shannon Wieman pinch hit and singled in two runs in the seventh.

"Ashley is one of the best athletes in the county right now," Wentworth said. "She is the fastest on this team. You have to use that. We saw the ball well. Cassidy used the pitches that were working. She didn't force any pitches."

Lecanto coach Robert Dupler was happy with his team's efforts.

"They (Panthers) don't quit," he said. "We're not getting the calls you'd like to get. When the judgment is not going your way, it is difficult to keep the fire going."

- LARRY BUGG, Times correspondent