Hernando stuns Sharks 7-4, Claim district crown
By Danny Aiello Jr
Coming into the 5A-7 district softball championship, most wrote off the two-time defending district champion Hernando Leopards. The Nature Coast Sharks had beaten them three times this season, and had the advantage of hosting the tournament on their home field.
The Lady Leopards (19-9) would have none of that dismissive talk, reminding everyone why they are the team to beat, as they upended the host Sharks 7-4 Friday afternoon.
Originally scheduled to play Thursday night, the championship game was pushed back to Friday due to heavy rain, thunder and lightning.
The only boom spectators heard Friday, however, were the bats of the visitors, who pounded out 13 hits, lead by senior Megan Lane.
Lane blasted a home run in her first at bat, setting a tone for the Leopards.
The host Sharks (21-4) responded on an RBI single by Courtney David to tie things at one.
Brianna Harvey would rope an RBI single in the third inning to give the home squad a brief 2-1 lead, before Lauren Moore hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at two.
Danielle Harvey also homered for the Leopards, a two-run shot in the fifth inning, giving Hernando a lead they would never relinquish.
Nature Coast would cut the lead to 4-3, before Sierra Cannon ripped a two-run double off the fence, giving the Leopards a 7-3 lead.
The bottom of the seventh would see the home team score once to make things 7-4, but Brittany Rodriguez would pop out with the bases loaded to end the game and set off a Hernando celebration.
The district champion Leopards will host 5A-8 runner-up Tarpon Springs Wednesday, while the runner-up Sharks have the daunting task of traveling to River Ridge, where the 5A-8 champion Royal Knights await them in quarterfinal play.
123 456 7 – R
HER 100 120 3 – 7
NCT 101 010 1 – 4