Gonzalez sends Sharks off a winner
Kat Gonzalez came through in the clutch for the Nature Coast Lady Sharks Wednesday night, as her walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth inning allowed the host to remain undefeated and knock off the Springstead Eagles 5-4.
Entering the contest the familiar county rivals were both unbeaten, promoting the old adage “What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immoveable object?”.
What happens is a heavyweight fight, where neither team was willing to give an inch.
Nature Coast (10-0, 7-0 5A-7) jumped ahead in the bottom of the first on a perfectly executed safety squeeze by Courtney David allowing Gonzalez who doubled to lead off the inning to score.
The Eagles (9-1, 4-0 6A-10) answered the bell in the in the top of the third inning when Abigail Oliver led off the inning with a booming double to right. After Delaney Woodall sacrificed her over to third, Louise Disi and Paige Pfent laced back to back doubles giving Springstead a 3-1 lead.
Nature Coast head coach Jug Olmstead would then make a move to his bullpen, bringing in Abbey Primavera, who had thrown a 97-pitch complete game the night before, to replace starter Alyssa Gonzalez.
“I wanted Gonzalez to go a little longer.” Olmstead admitted, “Pitches were up, and I just made the switch. There wasn’t any hesitation.”
Primavera allowed Shelby Ard to plate Pfent with a single, extending the Springstead lead to 4-1, before settling in and escaping further damage.
In the bottom of the third the Sharks would tie the game at three when Brianna Harvey tripled, before Primavera helped her own cause with a double off the fence.
The squads would trade zeroes until the top of the fifth when Primavera left a pitch up in the zone to Pfent, who promptly deposited it over the center field fence and onto the batting cages for a solo home run.
“I’ve played with (Pfent) my whole life.” Primavera said. “She’s a good hitter, and someone you need to get out when she comes to the plate.”
Primavera got the run she allowed back in the bottom of the fifth, however, when she laced an RBI single into right knotting the game back up at four.
With both teams refusing to lose, the game would go to extra innings and the visiting side would have a golden opportunity to take the lead.
Summer Taylor led off the frame with a double, followed by Megan Nelski reaching on a sacrifice bunt attempt that was thrown away by Primavera setting, setting up second and third with nobody out.
The Eagles would go for the squeeze play, but a heads up play by Celine Kordon would catch Taylor too far off third, allowing the Sharks to keep the run off the board.
“That’s a super heads up play by Celine.” Olmstead said. “That is a quality, intelligent, softball play.”
After escaping the jam, the stage would be set for the Sharks to walk off against their cross town rival in the bottom of the eighth.
After Chayse Skinner led off with a hustle double on a shallow fly ball, Cerina brooks reached on a bunt single and Abby Marshall walked, loading the bases with one out for Gonzalez.
“I just wanted to start the inning off and get us pumped up.” Skinner said. “I was running my heart out.”
Gonzalez would lace a single over the head of the drawn in outfield, allowing the Sharks to walk off a winner and remain unbeaten through 10 games.
“It means a lot to me and this team.” Gonzalez said of her hit. “It fuels me because when it comes down to just me going up there and having to do a job, I want to get it done to help this team. I couldn’t be prouder.”
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 R H E
SHS – 0 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 – 4 8 1
NCT – 1 0 2 0 1 0 0 1 – 5 9 2
WP – Primavera (6-0)
LP – Disi (9-1)
2B – K. Gonzalez, Skinner, Primavera (NCT) Oliver, Disi, Pfent, Taylor (SHS)
3B – Harvey (NCT)
HR – Pfent (SHS)