LUTZ – Steinbrenner pitcher Kellee Ramsey walked onto the mound Wednesday with a sour taste in her mouth.
Her opponent, Freedom, had gotten the best of her in the first two regular season meetings, but to Ramsey none of it mattered. All she needed to do was stick to her game.
The sophomore turned the tables and kept the Patriots (11-7) hitless until the sixth inning.
“Tonight it was a lot of adrenaline rush and I really think it really sunk in the last two innings that we had the lead and we might be able to go to regionals,” Ramsey said. “My mindset was to get the outs and really push hard in the last few innings.”
The Warrior softball team (17-6) came alive, proving the third time was indeed the charm as it dominated the Patriots 2-0 on April 19. The victory also guaranteed the Warriors their second playoff berth in three seasons.
“All I told (the team) was that we had to play our game,” said Steinbrenner coach Colleen Sanders. “We have the talent, we have the potential to do great things and we just had to put it all together tonight.”
While Ramsey mowed through the Freedom lineup on the hill, she also did some damage at the plate. In the fourth inning, she delivered a two out hit into the gap, scoring Taylor Morrow who singled before.
In the fifth, Savannah Scott doubled and scored after Erin Knoeppel bunted her to third and Erica Serafini gave the team a two run lead after her infield hit scored Scott.
“Coming into this week, the girls have made sure they’re ready, they’re in it, they’re here and they really just have that fire to win,” Sanders said.
Freedom loaded the bases in the sixth inning with two outs, but failed to move anyone over. In the seventh, another threat loomed for Ramsey as the Patriots put runners on second and third base with one out, but a bunt attempt was popped up to third as Taylor Morrow made the catch and fired to home plate for the game ending double play.
“I was just thinking of throwing strikes,” Ramsey said. “They hadn’t done anything before, so I was just thinking to get ahead of the count and defense looked good tonight so I knew they were going to be able to back me up.”
The Warriors will face No. 1 seed Chamberlain in the Class 7A-District 9 final tonight at 7 p.m. The Chiefs (21-7) advanced after defeating Wiregrass Ranch, 12-2 in five innings.
LSU-signee Bianka Bell went 4-for-4 at the plate with a double, triple and two singles to pace her team.
Jeff Odom / Sports Editor