Eagles’ Ryan goes yard (again) versus HHS’ Shenefield – this time it’s a game-winner, 3-0

Springstead High’s Jenna Ryan watches her two-run home run against Hernando. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Springstead High’s Jenna Ryan is greeted at home after a two-run homer against Hernando Wednesday night in Spring Hill. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Springstead High’s Mariah Galhouse steals second against Hernando. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO












Hernando left fielder Jadyn Wright just misses snaring a foul fly against Springstead. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO


SHS defense sparkles

converting 28 chances

in support of Galhouse



SPRING HILL – Wednesday night marked the 35th meeting in 17 seasons between Hernando County heavyweight softball programs – Springstead and Hernando.

It was two days shy of the one-year anniversary of the Hernando High’s remarkable 3-2 seventh-inning comeback win last year in Spring Hill

In its last at-bats, HHS was down 2-0.

Taliyah Dowdell tripled before Madyson Lamp fisted an RBI single to left for one run.

Janea Mobley

Janea Mobley followed with a two-run homer to left field for the dramatic game-winner as the Leopards snapped a six-game series losing skein against the Spring Hill crew.

What was lost in translation was Jenna Ryan’s booming two-run clout in the second inning that nearly carried the day against Leopard ace Ali Shenefield.

On Wednesday night before the largest home crowd of the season, Springstead senior right-hander Mariah Galhouse matched Shenefield pitch-for-pitch.

Galhouse, who has elevated her game since the Leopard Slam VIII, brilliantly handcuffed an HHS lineup that began the week hitting a collective . 437.

The visitors, who walked in with 13 team members hitting .300 or better, were limited to three hits across seven frames.

Galhouse expertly mixed her rise ball, changeup and curveball to chain the Leopards to a combined 3-for-24 (.125) effort at the plate.

Defensively, the hosts were on point, too. Springstead converted a game-high 28 chances in 28 attempts.

All-County second sacker Madison “Softball” DiCono grabbed two hard smashes before flipping to Hannah Rizzuto at first base.

Rizzuto, in turn, gloved a rocket by Olivia Townsend in the seventh for a put out.

Three-time All-County infielder – senior shortstop Emily Kolwicz – delivered three perfect assists against the menacing Leopard lineup.

Most importantly, Ryan duplicated her efforts at the plate from the year ago.

In a scoreless game, Galhouse battled before accepting a 3-2 pitch for her county-leading 24th free pass of the season.

Moments later, she stole second base.

Facing her 400th batter of the season, Shenefield yielded her initial homerun – she had surrendered a personal high seven bombs last year – as Ryan deposited a 3-2 pitch over the left field fence, 2-0 Eagles.

In the sixth inning, Rizzuto just missed a homer hitting the base of the left field fence for an RBI double plating Kolwicz, who had reached on a walk, 3-0 SHS.

The Eagles’ upset win improved the Mariner Boulevard crew to 17-5 overall, including a 5-1 slate in the county race.

The triumph snapped Hernando’s county-best 11-game winning streak,

The Purple and Gold hadn’t lost since the finals of the Leopard Slam VIII to Tampa-Sickles, 2-0.

Ali Shenefield

Ironically, HHS fanned 11 times in suffering its first loss.

This time, Galhouse was spectacular registering 12 punchouts against zero walks.

The future University of Tampa product struck out eight of Hernando’s nine starters at least once.

For her part, Shenefield (19-2) yielded just two hits of the 23 batters she faced. She walked three and fanned eight.

The future Rollins College product walked in with a microscopic 0.45 earned run average before yielding three earned runs.

Leopard offense

Nakayla Roberts

HHS’ offense consisted of a two-out triple by Nakayla Roberts in the second inning and singles by Lamp in the fourth, and freshman Solaris Genberg in the seventh.

All three were left stranded.

With two outs in the second frame, the 2018 All-County right fielder Roberts smoked a shot past Rizzuto down the right field line.

Here, Galhouse bore down and fanned second baseman Alyssa Forte on a called strike three looking.

With two outs in the fourth, Lamp, a two-time All-County pick, lined a single up the middle.

Townsend followed by hitting a hard smash that DiCono gloved on a short hop to end the threat.

Solaris Genberg

Genberg, who began the week hitting an impressive .426, singled just under Kolwicz’s glove to open the seventh.

Facing the most challenging part of the Leopards’ assault squad, Galhouse fanned Lamp before Rizzuto robbed Townsend stabbing a laser aimed down the first base line.

With Genberg at second base, Roberts grounded into a comebacker to Galhouse to conclude the microwave-like 79-minute pitcher’s duel.

Post-game discussion

Madison DiCono

DiCono was asked about her team’s defensive prowess.

“We all played well,” stressed the 18-year-old DiCono. “Defensively, we shut it down.”

On the game’s significance, “Oh, this (win) was big. It’s huge for us going into districts. We know we can beat the best.”

On Galhouse’s efforts, “She was untouchable.”

Mariah Galhouse

“I felt good; I had a little extra on my rise ball tonight,” replied Galhouse, 17. “The game plan going in was to mix up my pitches to keep then off-balance.”

On the game’s keys, “It was our defense,” emphasized Galhouse. “We were incredible tonight. Hannah (Rizzuto) nearly had her head taken off on that shot (in the seventh) and Maddie (DiCono) was solid again at second.

“…This was really big. It was one of the biggest games of the year.”

Hannah Rizzuto

Rewinding her final at-bat, “I was looking to make some contact,” explained the 16-year-old Rizzuto. “When I hit it, it sounded like it was going over. I knew it would be close.”

On Ryan’s round-tripper, “The game could’ve gone either way until Jenna did what she did,” smiled Rizzuto “But once that ball left the yard, it lit a fire under the rest of us.”

Describing Galhouse’s 19th complete game in 19 starts – just missing her career strikeout total with 12 – “Mariah’s been dialed in for a while. For us, everything starts with her. She really pitched determined tonight.”

Jenna Ryan

Before launching the 11th career homer off Shenefield, “I was just looking to make contact,” declared Ryan. “Mariah was on second, and I was just trying to knock her home.

Recalling the swing, “Yeah, when I hit it, it felt really good. Before that hit, I felt like I was in a slump. Since playing at Tom Varn Park, I felt like I wasn’t hitting well. But this really helps me get prepared for districts.”

On SHS’ defense, “Lately, we’ve been really close. I feel like we got each other’s back on this team.”

On the game’s significance, “It was big,“ replied Ryan. “This gives us a chance at the county championship and it helps us get ready for districts.”

Coaches’ corner

Kevin Bittinger

Fourteenth-year HHS skipper Kevin Bittinger wasn’t making excuses afterward even though HHS played without two starters – Hannah Lynch (bad back) and junior Hayden Kimbrough (leg injury).

“Springstead was the better team tonight,” noted Bittinger. “They definitely made plays all night on defense. I thought Galhouse set the tome early.

“You got the feeling after 2-3 innings, who ever made a mistake was probably gonna win this,” added Bittinger. “On the homer, Ali threw the pitch that was called. Ryan cleared her hips and got all of it. It was a good piece of hitting.”

On what veteran HHS skipper took away from the tilt, “This is why we schedule Springstead late in the season. We like these kinds of tests before districts,” noted Bittinger, “I give credit to Craig (Swartout). He had his girls ready to play. I thought they not only did good job of calling the right pitches, but executing their pitches. That’s a lost art and a major part of the game.

“What we learned was when we’ve lost – which hasn’t been often – we haven’t scored and we’ve struck out too many times. We’re not making excuses, tonight was hiccup. This (loss) will only help up moving ahead.”

From the home dugout, Swartout improved to 16-19 lifetime against HHS.

The main headliner?

Craig Swartout

“Mariah was amazing tonight,” noted Swartout. “Any time you get two of the area’s premier pitchers in one game, it’s gonna be a great game.

“I thought this was one of the best pitched games in 10 years,” shared Swartout. “Mariah’s command was amazing. I wish more people could see her pitch. She’s the real deal. She’s such a fierce competitor. She’s been locked in for a while.“

On SHS’ defense, “I don’t know how we could’ve played better,” analyzed Swartout. “I’m amazed every day how Softball makes plays after plays at second. To me, she doesn’t get the recognition she deserves.

“…Rizzuto’s near homer was huge, it gave us a little breathing room just in case. And I can’t say enough about Jenna’s bomb. Despite her “slump” she’s never lost her confidence. To me, she’s still ‘Big Game Jenna.’

On solving Hernando, “Kevin (Bittinger) puts out quality players year in and year out. You can see his handiwork every time they take the field. We were fortunate enough to get one from them tonight. It’s huge for us with districts right around the corner.”

Looking ahead

Hernando returns to action at 7 p.m. Thursday closing out its regular season home schedule against Weeki Wachee.

SHS returns to action next Monday at Clermont against Class 8A, District 3 East Ridge (16-5 overall).

Springstead 3, Hernando 0














































HER – Shenefield and Dowdell.

SPG – Galhouse and Camuglia.

W – Galhouse (14-5). L – Shenefield (19-2).

2B – SPG: Rizzuto.

3B – HER: Roberts.

HR – SPG: Ryan.

Records – Heramdmo (6-1 county, 21-2 overall), Springstead (5-1 county, 17-5 overall).


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