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Leopards, Sharks dropped in Semifinals

Heading into the semifinals of the Leopard Slam softball tournament, Hernando and Nature Coast seemed poised to square off for the tournament championship. However, both teams would lose their respective games and the in-county rivalry would have to settle for the third place game.

South Sumter edges Nature Coast

In the first of the semifinals, the second-seeded Sharks of Nature Coast would see themselves square off against the South Sumter Red Raiders.

The Lady Raiders would edge the Sharks in a 2-1 pitchers duel, behind a strong effort from Marissa Mesimore, who threw a complete game while striking out six.

All of the scoring in the game happened in the first inning, as South Sumter jumped out early behind an RBI single from Makayla Penninger and a run scoring error off the bat of Emily Hough.

The Sharks responded with a run of their own in the bottom half of the first. Courtney David singled in Kat Gonzalez who had walked to start the inning.

“ You can’t spot a good team two runs.” Sharks head coach Jug Olmstead said. “You have to come out prepared and we didn’t.”

Scoring opportunities, would be hard to come by the rest of the afternoon as both pitchers would settle in trading zeroes the rest of the way.

Nature Coast would threaten in the bottom of the fourth inning, by having Gonzalez on third with one out, but Brittany Rodriguez would foul out before Abby Marshall would smash a ball at third basemen Morgan Mobley who made the play to end the threat.

“Messimore did a great job.” Olmstead said. “She is a great pitcher and we had our opportunities, we just didn’t take advantage of them. Mobley stole one away from us.”

Hernando bested by Coral Springs

Coral Springs Charter squared off with Hernando for the right to play in the championship in the other semifinal, but the 17-0 Panthers were too much for the host Leopards beating them 6-1.

The Leopards couldn’t overcome their quiet bats and untimely errors and allowed Coral Springs to get out to a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“They are a great team.” Hernando coach Kevin Bittinger said. “We made some mistakes and you can’t do that against a team like this.”

Hernando would claw back in the late innings, posing threats in the sixth and seventh innings, but were unable to overcome the five run deficit.

The losses by both Hernando county squads led to the third place game being Hernando vs Nature Coast, and the championship allowing Coral Springs Charter to square off with South Sumter.


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