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Top honors continue for Countryside

The Cougars defend their No. 1 national ranking in the 5A-10 title game with a 3-0 victory over Seminole.

By JOHN SCHWARB, ALEX LYNCH and BOB PUTNAM

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 28, 2001


CLEARWATER -- With all the No. 1 rankings neatly lined up, the goal now for Countryside is to make sure they remain intact for two more weeks.

The Cougars (31-0, No. 1 in Class 5A), earned another plaudit Thursday when voters in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association boosted them from No. 2 to the top spot. Friday, Countryside did nothing to jeopardize the honor, beating Seminole 3-0 for the 5A, District 10 championship.

Countryside's quest for a first state title begins Tuesday at Bomber Stadium against River Ridge.

Seminole (20-10) travels to Palm Harbor U. for its regional quarterfinal. Both games will be at 4 p.m.

The district crown is the team's third consecutive, and once again senior Crystal Crews was in the middle of it all. The right-hander surrendered just one single and no walks in a complete-game effort.

"She can always be better, but we can't complain," Countryside coach Scott Kitchen said.

"We've got some momentum going, we hope we can keep it going."

Seminole's Lisa Hasson pitched admirably, scattering six hits and holding the Cougars to just one run in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

Nikki Delandy drove in Kerri Ryskamp with a single to left in the fourth, and in the fifth, a pair of Seminole miscues led to the second run.

Brooke Johannessen reached on a passed-ball third strike then took second on a wild pitch. Kattrina Dowd later singled, moving Johannessen to third.

On the next pitch, Dowd took off for second and Seminole catcher Kelly Foco fired a decoy throw away from the bag, but it sailed into center, allowing Johannessen to score.

Bree Spence ended the scoring with a single in the sixth, plating Ryskamp.

"At least we made it competitive," said Seminole coach Mark DeRuzzo, who saw his team lose 11-1 and 9-0 to Countryside in the regular season. -- JOHN SCHWARB

4A-11: Northeast wins 11-0

ST. PETERSBURG -- Crystal Folwell and the Northeast bats led the Vikings to an 11-0 five-inning mercy-rule win over Gibbs Friday to capture the district title for the first time since 1997.

Fundamentals are always important in softball. The hard part is for an entire team to put it into practice on the field.

Northeast (16-2) proved that the feat can be accomplished on a team scale Friday, turning in a solid performance in every phase of the game, from pitching to fielding to hitting.

"That's exactly what it was, it was an overall team effort," Northeast coach Sheryl Hollen said.

Folwell (16-1) kept the Gladiators off-balance, mixing a changeup in with a slider and a hard fastball, holding Gibbs to one hit and five strikeouts in five innings.

"(Folwell) is special," Hollen said. "She is the type of pitcher that throws a lot of stuff to get the batters to make contact but not good contact."

In the bottom of the first inning, May Alves doubled and scored on a Folwell hit. Folwell then scored on an error to make it 2-0.

But in the third, Northeast exploded for six runs on hits by Tiffany Nelson, Tori Bowling, Amber Poling and Michelle Mallard.

Nelson ended the game in the fifth when she doubled to leftfield to drive in two runs. When asked if their is something special about the 2001 district champion Vikings, Hollen couldn't find enough adjectives to describe her club.

"They have to be the best and most fun group of kids that I've had.

"They're all heart. They love just going out and having fun and that is what the sport is all about, having fun." -- ALEX LYNCH

A-10: Crusaders roll

ST. PETERSBURG -- With players out of the lineup on various field trips the past few games, Keswick Christian used the tournament to get back on track.

Granted, the Crusaders, by virtue of their No. seed 1, played only one game in the three-team tournament. But their 10-0 five-inning win over Lakeside Christian in the final was just the tonic Keswick needed as it enters post-season play.

"I wanted them to be aggressive and play a good game," Crusaders coach Robin Hintz said.

"I think we accomplished that."

Keswick started fast on offense, getting two runs in the first. That was all the Crusaders needed as starter Amanda Colangelo pitched a four-hitter and struck out nine to improve to 6-3.

Of the four hits Colangelo gave up, only one was an extra-base hit, a double. She also got help from her defense, which didn't commit an error and was key in getting out of two bases-loaded jams.

For good measure, Keswick added some runs. The Crusaders scored four in the second, one in the third and three in the fifth.

Lindsey Kruis hit a double, but it was Stacy Bartlett who was responsible for most of the offense. She had two doubles and a triple.

"We have a full team now, and we're starting to come together," Hintz said.

"This was a good start for us." -- BOB PUTNAM

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