5A SOFTBALL: Mistakes, 10 Ks doom Dunedin
Sloppy defense staggered Dunedin and Blake's Amanda Weather was there to clean up the rest.
The host Falcons – coming off winning its second district championship in as many years – spotted Blake (12-10) four unearned runs through three innings and Weather made sure they held up.
The junior Yellow Jackets pitcher stuck out 10 while surrendering just four hits and two walks in a bend-but-don't-break performance that secured Blake's first-ever postseason victory.
“We're definitely the Cinderella story of our district,” said Yellow Jackets coach Jean Smith. “A lot of people doubted us when we first started out, but our saying this year is hard work beats talent when talent hardly works.
“The girls are definitely proving our statement true and they just keep going on.”
“I felt good,” Weather said of her performance. “Some things were a little off but I just had to adjust them during the game. Everything felt good for the most part and I'm ready for Tuesday now.”
If going the distance and fanning 10 Falcons wasn't enough, Weather also led Blake at the plate. The leadoff hitter went 4-for-4 and scored all four times she reached base.
Other than follow Weather's dominating lead, Blake succeeded in capitalizing on Dunedin's fielding mistakes. The Falcons committed four errors Wednesday night and only two of the Yellow Jackets' six runs were earned.
The most costly Dunedin mishap came in the top of the third inning.
Already down 1-0, Blake center fielder Marissa Hernandez laid down a suicide squeeze bunt with runners at second and third. Designed to get at least the runner at third (Haley Roath) home safely, Hernandez ended up doing much more than that. In fact, the speedy junior never stopped running.
“We call her rabbit because she's so fast,” Smith said of Hernandez. “We called a squeeze and it worked out to our benefit because they made an error and the girls capitalized on it.”
Ehlers charged in on contact and cleanly fielded Hernandez's bunt while also catching Roath between third and home. When Roath retreated to third, Ehler's throw sailed into foul territory in left field. Roath, the trail runner Weather, and Hernandez all motored home to put Blake ahead, 4-0.
“They made some errors and we just took advantage of it,” Weather said. “Everybody did their job and put their effort in today.”
Making matters worse for Dunedin was its inability to connect at the plate in key situations. Falcons hitters went a combined 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Dunedin found itself in such offensive situations in four-straight innings from the third to sixth.
The Falcons' toughest break came in the third with two down and runners at second and third. Three-hole batter Abbie Sexton smoked a line drive back to the mound that rifled directly into Weather's glove.
It was that kind of game for the junior and it's continuing to be that kind of year for Blake.
“We had a few tough games at the end of the year but we've tried to just stay positive,” Weather said. “We have a good group of people here so we just want to stay positive throughout the year and play our hearts out.”
All four of Dunedin's hits came courtesy of Olivia Silver and Tiona Hill's two-hit nights. Both of Hill's hits were well-struck doubles, including one in the fourth that smacked a foot below the top of the center-field fence.
Because of the Class 5A bracket's configuration this year, Blake now gets to host the region semifinal on Tuesday against Bradenton Bayshore. The District 5A-12 runner-up Bruins convincingly beat District 5A-11 champion Lennard on Wednesday, 16-2.
Blake - 103 010 1 --- 6-7-0
Dunedin - 000 000 0 --- 0-4-4
WP – Amanda Weather
LP – Aubrey Ehlers
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