Cause for celebration
Lucy Schneider's home run against South Lake put Pasco into the state semis.
By IZZY GOULD
Published May 6, 2007
DADE CITY - Everyone wanted to hug Lucy Schneider. One girl wanted to kiss the Pasco star.
Pasco's sophomore slugger was instantly thrust into local celebrity after her three-run home run Tuesday boosted Pasco into the final four with a 5-2 win against Groveland South Lake.
One guy waited patiently for the frenzy to subside. Then he handed her The Ball.
The man was John Schneider, her proud father.
"I was right over where she hit it, " he said. "Her uncle Gene Joe Saylor grabbed it and gave it to me."
For the Pirates third baseman, the celebration she sparked was worth soaking in.
This was her shot at redemption after failing in the face of adversity at Hernando in February loss.
Pasco had squandered a four-run lead and the Leopards were chipping away.
Schneider stood at the plate in the top of the seventh with bases loaded and a chance for the possible winning hit.
It was grand slam or bust.
She popped out, and Pasco went on to lose 5-4.
The memory crossed the mind of Pasco coach Shamalene Broner on Tuesday after a pair of Pirates' defensive double plays ended the eighth and ninth innings.
Instead of tossing a pair of balls to her first baseman and centerfielder for warmup throws in the 10th, Broner held back and trusted her lineup.
Broner knew Pasco's best batters were due up, and Schneider would bat fourth.
Schneider got her shot with a pair of runners on base and the game tied at 2.
"I wanted her to be in that position, " Broner said. "I told her to let it (the pop out at Hernando) go because you'll be in situations like that again.
"When it happened I was glad she was the one at the plate."
Schneider is one of those natural talents almost always making the big play.
When Pasco needed a big hit against South Lake in the 2006 region quarterfinal, Schneider delivered with a three-run shot.
Few of her teammates were surprised about the winning home run.
"When we were 14, she was 11, " Pasco senior Kalee Burchfield said of their travel ball days.
"She was still dominating even though she was the youngest girl on the team."
Broner is arguably the best player to come out of Pasco County. She was a three time All-American at Florida State and a member of the Hall of Fame.
She paid Schneider the ultimate compliment Thursday afternoon.
"I see a lot of me in her, I really do, " Broner said. "I see some things she does and think I used to do that same thing. I turned out pretty well, I guess.
"You wish you had a whole team of Lucy."
Schneider is batting .448 with four home runs and a team-leading 38 RBIs.
She's a solid addition at third base and has developed a knack for backhanding catches, which was a weak spot last season.
"She came in and fought for the position as a freshman, " Broner said. I saw the talent. You can't ignore things like that."
Nor can anyone ignore the box full of accolades or the drawer full of balls her dad has collected over the years.
Each award has a memory, each ball a symbol of a great moment.
Schneider said she hopes to have everyone on the 2007 Pasco Pirates sign the ball her dad handed her after arguably her greatest softball moment.
And her father, a carpenter, said he has some work to do.
"Her dad's a carpenter and he ain't never built a shelf, " he said. "I'd better get started."
Izzy Gould can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 580-5315.
All games at Plant City Stadium
Class 4A: Pasco (26-4) vs. Okeechobee (25-3), May 9
Class 4A state semifinal
Pasco (26-4) vs. Okeechobee (25-3)
Wednesday, 5 p.m.
Plant City Stadium, Plant City
Winner advance to Thursday's state final to play the winner of Escambia/Lake Wales.