The Cougars and Chargers earned hosting privileges for this week’s regional tournament openers with a pair of wins last week.
When all of the dust settled in the infield on April 29, Durant and Strawberry Crest each had something to celebrate.
The Cougars won the 6A-District 5 softball championship in a wild game against the Chargers that ended with a 13-9 final score. Durant was in firm control of the game through three innings, taking an 11-0 lead on Crest thanks in no small part to Emily Smith’s grand slam with two outs in the bottom of the second inning. Durant scored its other two runs in the bottom of the fourth to secure all the offense it needed for the rest of the night, but the Chargers didn’t let the home team get the win so easily.
The fourth inning was a major turning point for the Chargers’ offense. Though Crest only managed to get one hit off of Durant starter McKenna Thompson (who also struck out 10 batters in five innings of work), the team took a much more patient approach in the batter’s box to great effect. Crest drew six walks against Thompson and scored four runs before she was relieved by Allie Hughes. The Chargers picked up eight of their nine hits and five more runs against Hughes while reliever Alyssa Grimes helped keep the Cougars from putting any more runs on the board in the fifth and sixth innings.
But the Chargers couldn’t overcome Durant’s early offensive outburst and clutch defensive work, and the home team couldn’t have been more overjoyed to hoist the district championship trophy up high after such a hard-fought, well-earned win.
It wasn’t the outcome Crest softball fans were hoping for, but they still had something to celebrate. The Chargers did win the 6A-District 8 baseball championship at home while the softball game marched on at Durant.
A strong two-way effort from Colby Fanning on the mound and at the plate led Crest to the 6-0 win over Plant City. Fanning pitched a complete game with six strikeouts, two hits and no walks, and he also led all batters with three hits, two RBI and two runs scored. Best of all for those in Charger country, the win gave Crest its third consecutive district championship trophy to take back to Dover.
On April 30, Durant’s baseball team met top-seeded Riverview Sarasota for the 7A-District 8 championship two days after dispatching Lakewood Ranch 11-0 in the semifinal. Though the Cougars went in hot, the Rams were able to cool those hot bats off and pick up a 10-0 win.
Softball regionals will see Durant host George Jenkins at 7 p.m. tonight while Crest plays at Bartow at 7:30 p.m.
In baseball regionals on Friday, Crest will host Bartow at 7 p.m. while Durant plays at Wharton at 7 p.m. and Plant City visits Winter Haven for a 7:30 p.m. game.