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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
BROOKSVILLE - Ashley Lewie dug into the batter's box facing every hitter's dream: two on, two out, two strikes, tie game, bottom of the seventh.
But she wasn't nervous.
Not at all.
"Last year," the Hernando senior said, "I would have been."
This year, though, she connected on a line-drive single up the middle of the Pasco infield to bring Erica Maldonado home from third and give the Leopards a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over fellow district heavyweight Pasco (5-1, 4-1 Class 4A, District 8).
The hit was one of several clutch swings for Hernando, which allowed two home runs in the first inning and trailed by three most of the game.
The Leopards entered the fifth trailing 4-1 and quickly grounded out and flew out. But Maldonado walked, Chelsea Chipoletti hit a single, and Katelyn Vanderham hit a two-RBI double to cut the deficit to one.
In the sixth, a costly base-running call nearly ruined the Leopards chance for victory: Lewie moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Katie Geiger, but was thrown out at third after Hernando coach Kevin Bittinger waived her around. Instead of a one-out, tying-run-on-third situation, the Leopards had no on and two out. Not to worry.
Senior third baseman Alex Gaffney hit a triple, bringing Cheyenne Sellers to the plate.
"I told Cheyenne, 'Go save my butt,' " Bittinger said.
She did, knocking a triple to the rightfield wall to tie it at 4.
Then, in the seventh, Maldonado reached on an error with one out, Chipoletti singled, and Vanderham moved both runners over with a sacrifice. Lewie took two strikes, then a ball, then connected on the winner.
Hernando (6-1, 4-1) has won two straight district games since a 9-8 loss to Zephyrhills last week.
The bulk of Pasco's scoring came in the first inning on a home run by Lucy Schneider and two-run home run by Kaylee Burchfield.