Down to the last inning
The West Pasco Belles softball team defeated Spring Hill with a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth to score, earning them the division title.
By STEVE LEE
Published July 4, 2006
ZEPHYRHILLS - Sometimes a championship can be traced to one moment or one hit, as was the case for the West Pasco Belles (ages 13-15) in the Dixie Softball League District 4 tournament.
Sammy Stahl's two-out single in the bottom of the ninth scored Carley Parker for a 3-2 win over Spring Hill.
That hit, and the victory, helped West Pasco go up 2-0 in the Belles division en route to a 4-1 mark and the division title. West Pasco advances to the DSL state tournament that begins Thursday in Belleview.
Five division titles were up for grabs in the district series (June 22-26 at Zephyrhills), but two divisions - the Darlings (7-8) and Debs (16-18) - did not play for a championship. There are only six state teams in those divisions, including District 4 squads East Pasco, West Pasco, Hernando and Spring Hill. Those district teams earned state byes.
West Pasco Belles manager David Radke called Stahl's winning hit "huge for our girls. They kind of came together with that win."
West Pasco opened the series with a 7-2 win over Spring Hill, then won two of three against Hernando - 3-2 and 1-0 victories sandwiched around a 12-9 loss.
"We got it back," Radke said, alluding to last year's district title won by East Pasco.
Cortney Radke, the manager's daughter, went 2-0 on the mound, and Stahl had a 1-1 pitching mark. In the title game, Radke pitched a three-hit shutout with six strikeouts and one walk.
Casey Knight averaged a team-high .600 to lead West Pasco's offense. Other key contributors were: Taylor Bruckner (.500, four RBIs), Parker (.462, three RBIs) and Kayla Constentino (.429).
East Pasco, which last season won district and state titles before finishing fifth in the DSL World Series, went 1-2 in the Belles bracket.
"We just didn't have the same group of girls; not the team unity," East Pasco coach Craig Boettcher said.
Spring Hill won the Angels (9-10) and Ponytails (11-12) titles, and the Spring Hill Darlings bested West Pasco 14-10. In the latter division, Spring Hill's Brianna Harvey, Celine Kordon, Jackie Pennett and Taylor Russell each had three hits.
Despite a 13-0 loss to Hernando, East Pasco Darlings manager David Isbell remained upbeat about his team's prospects for a state title.
"It didn't matter," Isbell said. "We played one game, but it was kind of like an exhibition. It gave us a good idea of what the competition (at state) would be like."
On the other hand, David Radke is glad to have won a series on the field.
"I think it makes a big difference," the West Pasco Belles manager said. "We get one tournament (title) under out belts before going to state. We got rid of the jitters."
Contact Steve Lee at email@example.com
DIXIE SOFTBALL LEAGUE STATE TOURNAMENT
WHERE/WHEN: Belleview, Thursday, July 11.
DISTRICT 4 TEAMS TO QUALIFY: West Pasco Belles ages 13-15; Spring Hill Angels (9-10); Spring Hill Ponytails (11-12); and East Pasco, West pasco, Hernando and Spring Hill squads in the Darlings (7-8) and Debs (16-18) divisions.
AT STAKE: Division winners advance to DSL World Series.
ADMISSION: $5 per day, or $20 for a series pass.