tampabay.com

Pirates' final bow hardest of all

Uncharacteristic errors plague Pasco, which has no answer for solid Lake Wales in the championship.

By IZZY GOULD
Published May 11, 2007


PLANT CITY - Pasco ran face first into a team inspired by loss.

This one was for "Pops" Don Ramsay, the "right arm" for Lake Wales coach Nancy Denton during her 19 seasons, and also her father.

Lake Wales wore wristbands for Pops, the former minor leaguer and mainstay at practices until he died in his sleep April 21 at the age of 86.

"I've done a little talking to him the last three weeks, " Denton said. "This has been extra special to me."

Denton had steered teams to final fours before, but Thursday night was her first chance to hug the winner's trophy after a 7-0 win over Pasco for the Class 4A title.

There was little the Pirates (27-5) could say after their worst loss of the season, which included a four-run, four-error inning. Maybe Pops had worked some Lake Wales magic?

"We haven't had that many errors in a ball game in a while, " Pasco coach Shamalene Broner said. "Errors cost. That really hurt us."

Lake Wales charged to a 1-0 lead in the first on a single to left by Tiffani Upchurch, scoring Tabatha Martin from second base. One run would prove to be plenty.

The Highlanders (23-6) used sound defense to keep Pasco at bay. They rode the right arm of Hannah Rogers, who gave up six hits, struck out three and walked one.

Pasco tried clawing back in the first with runners on the corners, two outs and Lucy Schneider stepping up to the plate. Instead of cashing in, she popped out to leftfield and suddenly there was a sense the Pirates had topped out.

"It hurts when you get runners on and can't push them across the board, " Broner said. "If you can't score a run you can't win a ball game."

That proved costly in the top of the third when Lake Wales pounced on four Pasco errors for four unearned runs.

"We still had a bunch of innings after that, " shortstop Brianne Farmer said. "I was hoping we could come back."

Colena Lazar came out firing with five strikeouts through two innings, but ran out of the fuel she used in Wednesday's 14-strikeout performance.

"By everybody's attitudes it looked like we were pretty much shut down, " Lazar said. "...When my D kept letting me down I kept on getting down."

Seniors Kalee Burchfield and Abbie Boyd had considered a loss on a bus ride home after Wednesday's 3-0 win over Okeechobee to reach the final.

"We talked about it (Wednesday) night, " Boyd said. "No matter what happened this was an amazing year. It's definitely something we'll remember."

State softball

All games at Plant City Stadium

Class 6A

- Spruce Creek (28-1) vs. Everglades (27-2), noon today - Countryside (24-5) vs. Miami Palmetto (26-3), 2 p.m. today - Final, 1 p.m. Saturday

Class 5A

- Chamberlain (28-2) vs. Pace (23-5), 5 p.m. today - Newsome (23-5) vs. West Boca Raton (17-12), 7 p.m. today - Final, 4 p.m. Saturday

Class 4A

- Lake Wales 7, Pasco 0

Class 2A

- Wewahitchka 4, Westminister Christian 0