COUGARS 7 EAGLES 2

EAST LAKE – Alice Gannaway set the tone Thursday with a leadoff blast to left and Countryside never looked back.

The Cougars picked up a 7-2 Class 8A District 7 win at rival East Lake, scoring six runs in the opening two frames.

Gannaway jumpstarted Countryside’s four-run first by pounding her second home run of the season deep over the left-field wall. The senior’s small stature belies the pop in her bat and the speedy center fielder nearly connected again in the seventh, settling instead for a double to the base of the left-center fence.

“We figured that out her freshman year, I think it was,” Cougars coach Kaylyn Bayly said of Gannaway’s power. “I threw her in there in an Ocala tournament and her very first hit, right over the fence. She’s just this little thing but she’s good. She’s got a good bat.”

Countryside increased its early lead to 2-0 with Nicole Tikriti’s RBI single and the Cougars tacked on two more thanks to an East Lake fielding error.

The host Eagles were unable to recover from the 4-0 hole that grew to 6-0 after Tikriti blooped a 2-run base hit into shallow right field.

Cougars pitcher Jordan Lewis took the game from there. The senior struck out six while limiting East Lake to four hits and two walks. It wasn’t until Eagles center fielder Athena Andrews shot a base-clearing, 2-run triple to center in the fifth that Lewis found herself in a little trouble. East Lake catcher Ana Holt made the brief rally possible by working a two-out walk that Caroline Jacquay followed up with a bunted base hit before Andrews’ big hit.

Countryside capped the night’s scoring with an RBI sacrifice fly to right from Makenzie Griffin that plated Gannaway in the seventh.

Thursday night’s win improves gives Countryside (5-2) its fourth straight win and third in a row in district play.

“We haven’t been hitting very well and we needed to get started,” Bayly said. “This was a perfect time to do it, I guess. They’re working hard but it’s a little different from last year with all that we lost. We’re getting it together; it’s just going to take some time. I think we grew a little bit today.”

Both teams were last year’s District 8A-7 postseason representatives and Countryside advanced all the way to the Class 8A state championship game before losing 5-2 in 11 innings against Bartow.

The Eagles began the year 3-0 but have lost two straight games to nearby rivals. Palm Harbor University came back to beat East Lake 3-2 Tuesday afternoon.

Countryside returns to the field Tuesday afternoon at PHU, while East Lake will be at Pinellas Park that evening.

BOX SCORE:

CS – 420 000 1 --- 7-8-1

EL – 000 020 0 --- 2-4-1

WP – Jordan Lewis

LP – Tori Brennan

TOP PERFORMERS:

Countryside (5-2)

Alice Gannaway – 2-for-3, RBI, 3 R, HR, 2B

Nicole Tikriti – 2-for-3, 3 RBI, R

Jordan Lewis – W 7.0 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 H, 6 K, 2 BB – 0-for-1, R, 2 BB

East Lake (3-2)

Athena Andrews – 1-for-3, 2 RBI, 3B, Sac Bunt

Caroline Jacquay – 1-for-2, R, BB

Nicci Palumbo – 1-for-3 – Defensive 2nd Base: 4 A, 5 PO

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