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Early runs are enough for Lecanto

The Panthers score five runs in the first inning and go on to defeat Crystal River 5-1.

By CAREY FREEMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 1, 2001


LECANTO -- Maintaining the momentum built in Tuesday's comeback win over Citrus, Lecanto scored five early runs Wednesday and held on behind solid defense for a 5-1 victory over Crystal River.

"We really took advantage of the situation in the first inning," Lecanto coach Amy Lilley said. "But once they started threatening, we really stepped up. I told the girls that offense can win some games, but defense wins championships."

In this case, the Panthers' offense gave them the early lead and the defense took care of the rest, handing the Pirates (2-1) their first loss of the season behind a three-hit, eight-strikeout performance by Erin Bailey (1-0) and Emily Bayer.

As they did Tuesday against Citrus, the Panthers (6-2) took advantage of errors. Shannon McConnell and Kristy Barkofski led off the first with a single and a walk, and consecutive throwing errors by Pirate infielders allowed the two to score. Dana Teller, whose one-out single brought home the winning run against Citrus, scored Jill Bandhauer and Teala Shelton with a towering triple to leftfield. Teller slid home one batter later on a ground ball by Bailey, just beating the tag of catcher Jessica Wilroy and giving the Panthers a 5-0 lead.

Crystal River went to freshman pitcher Cassie Pearson, but the damage already had been done. Pearson allowed just two hits the rest of the way and struck out seven, but Crystal River mustered little offense. The Pirates scored a run in the fourth and mounted a rally in the sixth when they loaded the bases with no outs. But Lecanto was bailed out by the pitching of Bayer and the arm of rightfielder Mandy Wade.

The crucial play came on a fly ball from Melissa Coburn that Wade caught and threw home in time to nail Ashley Williams at the plate.

Bayer coaxed an easy ground ball from Courtenay Ryals to end the sixth then closed out the game by striking out the side in the seventh.

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