A midseason rematch of last year’s Class 8A region quarterfinal between East Lake and Durant turned into a rout Saturday afternoon at the Palm Harbor University Lady Canes Spring Tournament in Clearwater.
Durant, last year’s playoff victor and eventual state champion, jumped out to a quick 5-0 first-inning lead and never looked back, winning 16-4 in six innings.
East Lake showed its resiliency by staying in the game after enduring Durant’s early blows. Eagles starter Gabby Orito settled down nicely and retired the side in order from the second to the fourth, and the offense managed cut the Cougars’ lead to 5-2.
The Durant bats would not stay quiet for much longer, though, as it countered East Lake’s two-run bottom of the fourth with a four-run top of the fifth.
The Cougars (8-3) cranked out 15 hits to score their 16 runs. Five of those hits were two-baggers, with shortstop Madison Farrell recording two. Farrell joined catcher Alyssa Colding as the two players to have three-hit days.
Six of East Lake’s eight hits were bunched within the fourth and fifth innings. The Eagles (11-3) scored twice in both those frames, but also stranded three combined base runners and had two others thrown out on the base paths.
East Lake first baseman Nicole Szelest reached base safely in all three of her at bats, going 2-for-2 with a double and a walk. Freshman Diana Rayder, who took over for Orito on the rubber with two outs in the top of the fifth, drove in two runs in the bottom half of that inning with a single during her only at bat.
Durant senior starter Paige Davis struck out five while surrendering eight hits, one walk and the four runs to earn the victory.
The Cougars advanced into the semifinals to play the winner of River Ridge-Bloomingdale. Prior to beating East Lake, Durant opened its tournament with a win over Crystal River.
East Lake drops out of the winner’s bracket and faces the loser of the River Ridge-Bloomingdale contest. The Eagles are still playing for a shot at fifth place. The other two teams vying for fifth are Pinellas Park and Dunedin, playing in the other portion of that bracket.
Host PHU is also a final-four team this year, looking to defend 2012's title win. The Hurricanes beat Jefferson last night and Pinellas Park earlier this afternoon, 11-3, to advance to the semis to play Plant.
Saturday’s championship game will be played at 7 p.m. at Eddie C. Moore Softball Complex’s Field 5.
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– Paige Davis (7-3)LP
– Gabby Orito
Madison Farrell – 3-for-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 1 R
Alyssa Colding – 3-for-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI
Paige Davis – Win, 6.0 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 8 H, 5 K, 1 BB – 2-for-4, 1 RBI
East Lake (11-3)
Nicole Szelest – 2-for-2, 1 2B, 1 BB
Aliyah Andrews – 1-for-3, 1 2B – Defense: Diving catch in CF, 4 POs
Hannah Roberts – 1-for-3, 1 RBI