Sharks down Leopards for third place finish
The Nature Coast Lady Sharks topped the Hernando Leopards Saturday night 4-3 to take third place in the Leopard Slam softball tournament. In the third meeting this season between in-county rivals, the Sharks would win for the third time, however, it would take late game heroics.
Nature Coast jumped out to an early one run lead in the top of the first, as Kat Gonzalez led off with a double, before Brianna Harvey knocked her in with a groundout to second base.
Megan Lane would answer the Sharks by getting the Leopards back on the board in the bottom of the first. After she was hit by a pitch, Lane would steal second and third base. On her steal of third, Nature Coast backstop Abby Marshall would throw to an uncovered third base, allowing Lane to scamper home.
“We came out flat.” Sharks head coach Jug Olmstead said. “Playing a county team for the third time, the girls seemed unmotivated, and it showed.”
Courtney David would single in Harvey to give the Sharks the lead in the top half of the third, but once again, Lane would make it her mission to even the score.
After pitching the semifinal game, Nature Coast hurler Abbey Primavera would enter in relief for this contest, but Lane and the Leopards didn’t seem to care.
After lacing a single to left to lead off the bottom of the fifth, Lane would steal second and third again, before scoring on a bunt single by Erika Lewis.
Primavera would match zeroes with Hernando pitcher Lauren Moore until the seventh when the Sharks would take the lead for good.
Gonzalez would deliver a fatal one-out double, scoring two runs giving the Nature Coast a 4-2 lead with three outs separating them from claiming third place.
“We talked about scoring before that last inning.” Olmstead said. “We knew Lane was coming up and she was going to get hers, so I would have liked to get more runs, but a win is a win.”
The host Leopards wouldn’t go down that easy, however, making things extremely difficult for their rivals in the bottom of the seventh.
Lane would score, before Lewis walked with two outs. Kaylee Frascatore came through with a clutch two-out single scoring Lane and leaving Harvey the tying run at third.
However, Primavera would get Danielle Harvey to fly out to centerfield to end the game and the threat.
“(Hernando) played us tough.” Olmstead said. “They always play us tough and I’m sure we will see them again.”
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