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Hernando slips into semis

Chrissy Hartley wiggles out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh for a 2-1 victory over Keystone Heights.

By GREG AUMAN and CAREY FREEMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 2, 2001


BROOKSVILLE -- Clinging to a 2-1 lead with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning, Hernando pitcher Chrissy Hartley looked to the skies for help, knowing one bad pitch could end her high school softball career.

You could call it divine intervention, but as far as official scorekeeping goes, Hartley's prayers were answered by third baseman Scottisha Scrivens.

Scrivens, called up from the junior varsity three weeks ago, caught Angii Verbeelen's pop foul, redeeming herself and clinching Hernando's 2-1 nail-biter over Keystone Heights in Tuesday's Class 3A regional quarterfinal at Tom Varn Park.

"I just looked up to God and said, "Please be with me,"' said Hartley, who struck out 12 batters and took a shutout into the seventh before things got interesting.

Ashley Gibbs singled with one out for Keystone (15-13), then Brittany Gassett reached when second baseman Carolyn Gant bobbled a grounder. Donya Presley followed with an RBI single to center, putting the tying run at second with one out.

After an infield fly, Hartley walked Keystone's No. 9 hitter, Jacquie Ingram, to load the bases with two outs. The batter was Verbeelen, an eighth-grader who was Keystone's second-best hitter this season.

When Verbeelen led off the game, she hit a high foul ball that popped out of Scrivens' glove. Given a second chance, she singled -- the only hit Keystone would manage in the first five innings.

Scrivens, who had two singles herself and scored the winning run in the fourth, had another defensive miscue in the sixth, when her throw to first base sailed high to put runners on second and third with no outs. Hartley, who was sick enough Monday to stay home from school, struck out the next three batters to end that rally.

On the last play of the game, eerily similar to the first, Scrivens was able to return the favor, running to make a grab within a step of the chain-link fence in front of the visiting dugout.

"They told me to shake it off, that I'll get it the next time," Scrivens said. "I was just watching the ball. I wasn't worried about the fence at the time. I did see Chrissy in this eye. I thought she was going to run me over."

Hernando (28-3) will travel Thursday to play Cocoa (9-12), the District 8 champion, which advanced Tuesday with a 2-1 victory over Eustis. -- GREG AUMAN

3A-2: Pirates surprise

ALACHUA -- The little team that could did it again.

After entering the post season with a losing record, Crystal River is now just one game away from .500 and -- more importantly -- two games away from the state final four after a topsy-turvy 13-6 victory over fourth-ranked Alachua Santa Fe.

The Pirates (14-15) trailed twice in the game, and their response to the Raiders' four-run, sixth-inning rally was something Crystal River fans will remember for a while. Trailing 6-5 entering the top of the seventh, the Pirates struck for eight runs on five hits to put Santa Fe away.

"I think a lot of times we've gotten down in situations like that and were not able to get any runs," said Pirates outfielder Courtenay Ryals, who drove home the final two runs. "But this time we stuck together and decided we really wanted to win this game."

Crystal River continuously found the answer to Santa Fe rallies. The Pirates fell behind 1-0 after the first inning, but answered with a three-run outburst in the second sparked by a two-run single from Alisa Tisdale, who finished the game 3-for-4 with three RBI.

"We battled back from some bad defense early," Raiders coach Loretta Shane said.

Crystal River added two more runs in the sixth and entered the bottom of the inning with what appeared to be a safe 5-2 lead, but the Raiders promptly loaded the bases and scored four runs, three on Crystal River errors.

Unfazed, the Pirates saw their first three batters advance safely then began a trickle of runs that would spell Santa Fe's doom. Jessica Wilroy drove home the tying run on a single and Krystle Cummings drove home the game-winner on a fly to left field. Rachel Miniard followed with a two-run double that opened the floodgates and sent the Pirates into Thursday's semifinal at Umatilla. -- CAREY FREEMAN

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