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For their own good
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TAMPA - As Countryside pitcher Desiree Baker strolled onto the field to pitch her 11th consecutive inning, one could only wonder if she had enough juice left to record the final three outs after being staked to a one-run lead in the top half of the inning.
Baker responded, barely, and Countryside (10-3, 4-3) was able to close out Sickles (10-3, 5-2) in a 2-1, 11-inning district victory.
"I knew we'd pull it out," Baker said. "I was getting kind of tired, but the anticipation of winning made me stronger."
After striking out the first batter and getting the second to fly out, Sickles' Morgan Mcguire grounded to third base for what appeared to be the final out. But Countryside first baseman Beth Allen was unable to field the throw from third, giving Sickles new life.
Richelle Mirabal followed Mcguire with a base hit, putting runners at first and second. Baker, however, got the final out when Nadirah Nesfield's hard line drive was hit right at Countryside third baseman Emilee Venable, who was able to field it cleanly for the win.
"We had a lot of opportunities early and just didn't capitalize on them," Countryside coach Kaylyn Bayly said. "We could have gotten down and just quit, but the team kept fighting and battling."
Countryside broke a 1-all tie in the 11th when Ali Lamb reached on an error and went to second on a ground out. Venable followed with a base hit, putting runners on the corners, and GiOnna DiSalvatore roped a line drive up the middle that won the game for the Cougars.
"We lost a heartbreaker," Sickles coach Angela Munchel said. "When you play 11 innings and put up a fight like that, it's fun to watch. Our kids played their hearts out. I can't ask for anything more."
Baker went the distance for Countryside and struck out nine. Sickles starter Alyesse Stapf was equally impressive. She, too, went the full eleven innings and scattered five hits while striking out two.