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Countryside senior Brooke Mitchell broke out of hitting slump with marathon at-bat.
By JOE SMITH
Published March 15, 2007
CLEARWATER - Countryside senior Brooke Mitchell broke out of her hitting slump with a marathon at-bat Wednesday afternoon.
In an epic standoff with Northeast senior pitcher Dani Seibert, Mitchell stood in the batter's box for 18 pitches. Mitchell ripped a foul ball off a lightpost behind the plate, and nearly hit coach Kaylyn Bayly with a liner to the left of third base.
"I didn't think it'd ever end," Seibert said.
Said Mitchell: "It was crazy."
Mitchell ended up with a hard-fought walk, which befitted Countryside's gritty 3-0 win over Northeast. The game's stars were Cougars shortstop GiOnna DiSalvatore (two RBI doubles) and junior Desiree Baker, who threw a two-hitter.
The matchup pitted two of the county's top teams and pitchers; Northeast (11-1), led by Seibert, was off to one of its best starts in school history. Countryside (13-1) rode the right arm of Baker to a No. 10 ranking in Class 6A.
The Cougars struck first in the opening inning. Brittany Datillo and DiSalvatore hit back-to-back doubles to give Countryside a 1-0 lead. "It was a riseball - that missed," DiSalvatore said with a grin. "It was right down the middle."
The Vikings answered in the second with back-to-back, two-out singles to put runners on first and second base.
But Baker (10-1) settled in, ending the threat with a strikeout (one of eight in the game). From then on, the Vikings were hitless and unable to advance a runner to second.
"She's a great pitcher," Seibert said. "We just couldn't get our bats going."
ST. PETERSBURG - Palm Harbor University's CJ Tyrkala didn't start Wednesday night's game against Northeast, but the senior catcher ensured ample television time.
Tyrkala drove a middle-in fastball over the leftfield fence for a tiebreaking grand slam with the Catch 47 TV crew on hand as the visiting Hurricanes shook off a loss to Dunedin on Tuesday with an emphatic 12-5 win over Northeast.
"It was hard knowing I wasn't starting because TV was going to be here and that's a first for us," Tyrkala said.
First-year PHU coach Jeremy Albrecht said he wanted to send "a little message" to his starters after Tuesday's loss. Seven of the Hurricanes' (6-2) normal starters sat the first time through the batting order.
"I wanted to give them a little time to reflect," he said. "And they reflected in a big way."
After an Anthony Diaz suicide squeeze tied it at 2 in the fourth, Tyrkala unloaded the bases with a towering shot off Northeast (7-5) starter Jacob Wilder (3-2).
"I just let my hands go and turned on it," Tyrkala said.
INJURY: Northeast's Joey Michel was seriously injured in a collision with Lakewood's Brandon Bonner on Tuesday. With Northeast ahead 6-1 in the top of the third, Michel dribbled a ball down the first baseline that rolled foul. Bonner gave chase and the two collided.
Michel was taken to Bayfront Medical Center and remains in intensive care with a lacerated spleen, bruised kidney and potentially two cracked ribs. Bonner was ejected and faces an additional suspension depending on the umpires' report.