CLEARWATER — Countryside and River Ridge will meet tonight at 8 to decide this year’s Lady Canes Spring Softball Tournament championship. All remaining games will be played at the Eddie C. Moore Sports Complex in Clearwater. Both title contenders shut out their semifinal opponents, with Countryside blanking Northeast 8-0 and River Ridge downing Dunedin 6-0. River Ridge (12-1) entered the two-day tournament as a strong favorite and hasn’t disappointed. Behind the pitching of junior Makenzie Goluba, last year’s runner-up has outscored its first three opponents (Lakewood, Tarpon Springs and Dunedin) by a combined 32-0. Countryside (12-3) didn’t breeze through its competition with quite as much style, but the Cougars will represent River Ridge’s toughest test yet. To get to the title, C-Side beat Sunlake 9-4, Plant 2-1 and Northeast 8-0.
The Cougars showed off their pitching depth in the semis, with sophomore Stella Preston striking out seven and earning a complete-game win. Samantha Sharpe (3-for-3, 3 R, 3 RBI, SB, BB) and Andrea Fredericks (3-for-3, 3 R, SB) provided Preston plenty of help from the plate. Dunedin and Northeast will play for third place at 6 p.m. The fifth-place game is at 8 p.m. between host Palm Harbor University and the winner of East Lake-Tarpon Springs. Also to be played are consolation games between East Bay and Tampa Catholic (6 p.m.), Plant and the loser of East Lake-Tarpon Springs (6 p.m.) and Pinellas Park and Seminole (8 p.m.). Check back to SuncoastNews.com for the championship-game recap and more photos later tonight. firstname.lastname@example.org (727) 815-1071