By JOHN SCHWARB
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 26, 2001
ST. PETERSBURG -- South county rivals have yet to solve Northeast and Crystal Folwell. But Gibbs could not be happier to have another shot.
The No. 1 seed Vikings won their 12th game in as many tries against a south county school with a 2-0 win against Lakewood in a Class 4A, District 11 semifinal Wednesday. Gibbs, the third seed, claimed the other spot in Friday's final with a 4-3 win against second-seeded Dixie Hollins.
The Gladiators (8-9) clinched a spot in the regional final for the first time since 1992 by avenging two regular-season losses to the Rebels (13-7). Sophomore April Lane pitched a complete game and had what turned out to be the game-winning RBI.
"This feels so good," Lane said.
Mellissa Gillespie gave Gibbs its first lead in the fifth with a double to deep left, scoring Michelle Catlin for a 3-2 advantage. Lane stretched the lead to 4-2 in the sixth with a single that scored Jeanine Giannetti.
The insurance run proved huge in the bottom of the sixth. Dixie's Allison Morgan hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Carolyn Chin, but Michelle Kirbach was tagged out at the plate on the same play while trying to score from second on an errant relay.
In the nightcap, Lakewood (11-11) failed to get a runner past second on Northeast (15-2) and lost despite a fine effort by pitcher Lauren Groves.
Groves gave up three hits, but two led to runs. In the first inning Melanie Straight led off with a single and later scored on an error, and in the third Folwell hit a sacrifice fly to score Lynn Footlick, who also had led off with a single.
CLEARWATER -- The usual suspects, Countryside and Seminole, advanced to the final of the Class 5A, District 10 tournament and will play each other in the title game for the third season in a row and fourth in the past five years.
"It's become pretty common," Cougars coach Scott Kitchen said. "You can pretty much pencil the two of us in almost every year."
Friday's district final matchup may be routine, but the teams took different paths getting through the semifinals.
The Warhawks had to sweat out a 5-4 victory against Boca Ciega in the early game Wednesday. Tariling 4-0, Seminole scored four runs in the fifth and added the winning run in the sixth. Lynn Beksha held the Pirates to five hits and picked up her ninth win of the season.
Meanwhile in the nightcap, Countryside cruised to a 17-0 victory that was called after five innings because of to the 10-run mercy rule.
The Cougars, ranked No. 1 in the Class 5A state poll and No. 2 nationally, got off to a quick start by scoring four runs in the first.
After a scoreless second inning, Countryside added eight in the third. Kitchen emptied the bench and the reserves scored the final five runs.
Crystal Crews pitched four innings, giving up two hits and striking out seven to win her 20th game of the season.
LAND O'LAKES -- After stranding nine runners in one four-inning stretch, Land O'Lakes loaded the bases for the third time with two out in the bottom of the seventh Wednesday against Dunedin.
But this time, Ashley Patton scored when third baseman Colleen Conroy threw home instead of to first on a Samantha Harvey grounder.
Patton scored standing up, giving Land O'Lakes a 2-1 win and a berth in today's final against top-seeded Clearwater.
Clearwater earned its spot thanks to a no-hitter by Mariah Green. Green shut down Springstead in a 5-0 win, striking out four.
Patton said she found herself fighting back tears before walking to the mound in the seventh. She said she realized she could be playing in her last game.
Patton did all she could to lead the Gators (16-10) back to the state playoffs. She pitched a complete game, allowing one run on three hits, and went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
Dunedin (15-14) scored its run on an RBI single by Sarah Kohlbrenner in the fourth. Dunedin starter Tina Ward battled out of trouble all game thanks in part to four Falcon errors.
Green (12-7) also worked out of constant trouble. She walked three, and three others reached on errors. She said she wasn't aware she had pitched her first no-hitter until after the game.
Clearwater (17-9) helped Green with stellar defense. Third baseman Star Jones' lunging grab of a Caitlin DeCristofaro line drive in the sixth was the closest Springstead got to a hit.
Megan Monnier, Christy Rhodes and Jones drove runs for Clearwater. Springstead (7-19) committed three errors that led to three runs.