By STEVE LEE, WAYNE GRUMET and BOB PUTNAM
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 2, 2001
LAND O'LAKES -- Jen Savage got sick several times before the game but never thought about sitting out Tuesday's Class 4A, Region 3 game against Leto.
Good thing for the Gators.
The catcher had three hits and a walk and drove in three runs, including the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh inning of Land O'Lakes' 7-6 win.
Savage's single to leftfield scored Michelle Hausman and came a half-inning after she blocked home plate to prevent Leto from scoring the go-ahead run.
"I ate a little too much," said Savage, who got sick after eating lasagna before the game.
Land O'Lakes (18-9) hosts Bradenton Southeast in a regional semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
The win gives Land O'Lakes three post-season one-run victories and 10 in the past 12 games.
The Gators twice took two-run leads, but the Falcons (8-17) went ahead 5-4 with three runs in the fifth on Sabrina Bertrandt's two-run double and an RBI single by Alexis Martinez.
The Gators regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth on Hausman's RBI double and a wild pitch that scored Erica Skillman.
Casie Green's RBI single in the sixth tied it for Leto to set the stage for Savage's heroics.
Hausman led off the seventh with a single, advanced to third on Skillman's bunt and a throwing error by Green, the catcher. Savage then singled over Martinez in left. -- STEVE LEE
BROOKSVILLE -- Palatka figured out Central ace Jenny Clark before it was too late Tuesday.
Palatka rallied for five runs in the top of the seventh after mustering just one hit in the previous six innings to win 6-1.
Palatka (20-9) pounded out five hits in the seventh, including a two-run triple by Iris McCoy. McCoy's triple was the third consecutive hit off of Clark to begin the seventh. McCoy had struck out in her prior two at-bats.
McCoy wasn't the only Panther to whiff on Clark's offerings. Clark had 10 strikeouts, including six in the first three innings.
Central (17-9) had momentum after matching Palatka's run in the sixth. It ended Palatka starter Katie Brosky's no-hit bid on Heather Krasniewski's leadoff single. Riki Aulozzi later drove in Krasniewski with a single to left.
Central threatened in the bottom of the seventh. It put runners on first and second with one out. Tonya Stevenson then singled to right, but rightfielder Amber Smith threw out Clark at home. "That's softball. The favored team doesn't always win," Central coach Benny Martinez said. "I'm very pleased. We accomplished a lot of things, and we've found a lot of potential in players for next year." -- WAYNE GRUMET
CLEARWATER -- Countryside ace Crystal Crews made a lot of key throws during Tuesday's 2-0 win against River Ridge in the Class 5A regional quarterfinals. However, none was more important than a light overhand toss to third base in the sixth inning that saved the Cougars' season and their No. 1 national ranking. Ahead 1-0 with one out in the sixth, Crews gave up back-to-back singles to Christine Beck and Stefanie Simon. Both were successful on a double steal and gave the Royal Knights their best chance to score.
The following batter, Jill Hrovoski, tried a squeeze bunt and popped up. Crews reacted quickly, extending her glove to catch it and throwing to third for a double play to end the threat and extend the Cougars' scoreless streak to 30 innings.
"The game pretty much came down to that bunt," River Ridge coach Ernie Beck said. "We had a chance, we started hitting her (Crews). We just came up short."
Kattrina Dowd, who singled in the first inning, scored the winning run on a single by Carly Brieske.
Dowd also drove in an insurance run in the sixth with a double that scored Brooke Johannessen, who reached on a single. In between, Countryside (32-0) stranded nine runners.
"I told the girls you can forget about the 10-run mercy rule from here on out," Cougars coach Scott Kitchen said.
"All games are going to be tight the rest of the way." -- BOB PUTNAM