5th time is a charm! Lamp’s solo homer derails Raiders, clinches rare regional title, 1-0

Hernando High’s Madyson Lamp launches a home run vs Steinbrenner. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
The final score tells the tale.

SOFTBALL

HHS advances to

first state Final

Four since 2001

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

Persistence finally paid off Friday night in Alachua County.

The game was delayed 55 minutes at beginning of the second inning due to lightning in the area.

Madyson Lamp

In Hernando High skipper Kevin Bittinger’s 14th season – and fifth regional final – the Leopards rode Madyson Lamp’s solo homer in the top of the seventh inning to derail host Alachua-Santa Fe for the Class 5A, Region II title, 1-0.

Coral Springs Charter Panthers

With the win, HHS will face three-time defending state champion Coral Springs Charter Panthers (27-1) at 9:50 a.m. Thursday at the Jackie Robinson Training Complex in Vero Beach.

The first Class 5A state semifinal pits Marianna vs. Hardee County at 8:35 a.m.

The two semifinal winners will clash at 10:05 Friday for the state finals.

Lighting the Lamp

Lamp, the inning’s leadoff batter, snapped a scoreless tie by belting a 0-1 offering off senior Hailey Raulerson over the left field fence for her Hernando County-leading ninth homerun of the season.

In the bottom of frame, HHS senior pitcher Ali Shenefield got some help.

Alyssa Forte

A ball that was smashed up the middle – what appeared to be a sure leadoff single – was snared behind the bag by junior second sacker Alyssa Forte.

From her knees, Forte threw to first sacker Olivia Townsend for the first critical out.

The second batter popped up to freshman shortstop Solaris “Solo” Genberg.

Fittingly, the final out was recorded on a pop up by Forte.

With the triumph, the Leopards improved to 27-3 overall while the Raiders closed out 22-7.

The 27th win ties the second-highest amount of victories in Hernando County’s 30-year fast-pitch history with the 2014 and 2000 Purple and Gold squads.

Incidentally, the county record for most single season wins is held by Ernie Chatman’s 2001 squad that finished 30-4.

Moreover, this regional title was Hernando High’s third ever – and first since the 2001’s Final Four trip to Auburndale.

Leopard heroes

A post-game Bittinger explained that his team’s success began in the circle with Shenefield.

Ali Shenefield

The 5-foot-3 brunette, who has already inked to play D-I ball at Rollins College in Winter Park simply turned in after terrific outing.

Shenefield’s 28th start yielded her 28th complete game.

In all, the right-hander faced 27 batters and scattered four singles and two walks while sprinkling in five strikeouts.

Shenefield climbed to 25-3 overall this season and 78-19 lifetime behind her 45th career shutout.

Her 18th bagel of the season also extended her single-season record for shutouts.

“Santa Fe scouted us at Cypress Creek. They were all chopping at the ball, so they could just keep it in play,” noted Bittinger. “Ali’s numbers don’t really jump out. She didn’t strikeout a lot, but she was masterful in how she attacked the zone. She was solid. Most importantly, she kept a good team off balance.”

The Leopard defense also rose to the occasion against the Raiders converting all 26 of its chances.

According to Bittinger, Forte played a “fantastic game. She made a nice play grabbing a foul ball in the first inning and had the play of the game in the third inning.“

Bittinger recalled how the Raiders loaded the bases in that inning on a walk and two fisted singles just over the infield.

With one out, the Raiders’ No. 3 batter lined a ball that Bittinger said, “I thought it was a two-two-single.”

On the play, Forte leapt and at the apex of her jump snared the liner.

As she came down, her teammates insisted that she throw to third.

Forte whistled a seed over junior Hayden Kimbrough for the force out to complete the game’s lone twin killing.

That play was ridiculous,“ beamed Bittinger.

Leopards miss a chance

In a game of few of opportunities, the Leopards missed a chance to score in the fourth.

Junior catcher Taliyah Dowdell rammed her eighth double to right-center to open the frame.

Taliyah Dowdell

The dangerous Genberg, who began the week hitting .409, dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Dowdell to third.

With Lamp up – the county’s No. 2 run producer behind Dowdell – Bittinger called for a rare squeeze bunt.

Lamp bunted the ball – but right back at Raulerson, who flipped it to the catcher, who tagged Dowdell.

Townsend subsequently fanned – one of four HHS strikeouts – to end the threat.

“That call was on me,” lamented Bittinger. “We missed a great chance.“

While Jaye Carter led the Raiders with a 2-for-3 effort, Lamp did the same for the Leopards featuring a double and a homer.

Besides Dowdell’s double, senior Nakyala Roberts and Townsend added singles.

Coaches’ corner

Kevin Bittinger

Asked it was a relief capturing HHS’s first regional crown in 18 years, “I told our girls after the Cypress Creek game that this team has paid its dues. That we’d been to four previous regional finals and not advanced when I thought we should’ve.”

“There’s a reason we’re going this time. To me, these girls really deserve it,” added Bittinger. ‘It’s a great group of kids. I’m proud of how we won and how we handled ourselves on their field in front of their fans.

“…We’ve been on the other side of that equation, so we know how that feels. We showed respect to the other team.”

2019 “Road to the Show”

Class 5A, District 7 Girls Softball Tournament at Brooksville’s Tom Varn Park

04-29:

Quarterfinals

Hernando – bye

NCT 11, Hudson-Fivay 0 (4.5 Innings)

04-30:

Quarterfinals

Hudson 15, Central 0 (3.5)

Cypress Creek 16, Gulf 1 (4.5)

05-01:

Semifinals

Cypress Creek 8, NCT 3

Hernando 9, Hudson 1

05-02:

Championship

Cypress Creek 7, Hernando 5

05-07:

Class 5A, Region II Quarterfinals

@ Wesley Chapel

Cypress Creek 6, Pierson-Taylor 4

@ Orlando

Hernando 4, Bishop Moore Catholic 0

05-14:

Class 5A, Region II Semifinals

@ Eustis

Alachua-Santa Fe 5, Eustis 3

05-15:

Class 5A, Region II Semifinals

@ Wesley Chapel

Hernando 8, Cypress Creek 7

05-17:

Class 5A, Region II Semifinals

@ Alachua

Hernando 1, Santa Fe 0

05-23:

Class 5A State Semifinals

@ Vero Beach

Marianna vs. Hardee County, 8:35 a.m.

Hernando vs. Coral Springs Charter, 9:50 a.m.

05-24:

Class 5A State Semifinals

@ Vero Beach

Championship, 10:05 a.m.

Hernando 1,

Santa Fe 0

 

1

 

2

 

3

 

4

 

5

 

6

7

 

R

 

H

 

ER

 

LOB

HER

2

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

5

0

4

SF

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

4

0

6

HER – Shenefield and Dowdell.

W – Shenefield (27-3). .L – Raulerson (12-6). .

2B – HER: Dowdell, Lamp.

HR – HER: Lamp.

Records – Hernando (3-0 tourney, 27-3 overall), Santa Fe (2-1 tourney, 22-7)…

 

 

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