CLERMONT – The Panthers are on the prowl, growling and always looking for a state championship.
Eustis had runs in the first and fourth innings and Libby Levendoski pitched a three hitter on Thursday to put the Panthers to a 2-0 win over Orange Park Ridgeview in the Florida High School Class 4A softball semifinals. Athletic Association at Legends Way Ball Fields.
With the win – the Panthers’ 19th win – Eustis improved to 26-1 this season and will face Brooksville Hernando at 4:30 p.m. Friday for the Class 4A State Championship. Hernando, with a 26-4 record, beat Plantation American Heritage 9-8 in Thursday’s second semifinal game.
The panthers take the regions:Levendoski throws a non-hitter to lead Eustis to the 4A-2 title; MDCA wins 2A-2 title
The wind kept a minimum race score
On a day when weather conditions showed races would be at a premium – a 20-25 mph win blew from right field throughout the game – Eustis wasted little time getting on the scoreboard against Ridgeview , second.
In the bottom of the first, first hitter Cassidy Ross worked Ridgeview pitcher Brittany Michael for a walk. She moved to second on a single left by Isabella Andujar and ran to third on a passed ball.
After a march towards Jensen who loaded the goals with one out, Aubrey Ruby lifted a sacrifice in the center that scored Ross.
In the fourth, Paris Key worked Michael for a preliminary walk. Kiersten Taylor, who ran for Key, scored an insurance run two hitters later on a sharp left single by Ainsley Perdicaris.
Obviously, that was more than enough racing support for Levendoski. The sophomore, who pitched a no-hitting game against Belleview in the Region 2 Championship game last week, was almost as dominant against Ridgeview.
She held Ridgeview without touch for three innings before handing a single to Ashlyn Halford at the start of the fourth inning. Brooke Michael also picked in the inning to give Ridgeview a one-out scoring opportunity.
Levendoski and Eustis’ defense, however, pulled out the next two hitters to forgo a potential rally.
A set later, Brittany Michael netted a brace with two outs, but was stuck in second after Levendoski pulled out Mary Girgis to complete the set.
Those were the only times Ridgeview had a runner lead on second base. No Ridgeview reached third place against Levendoski.
Levendoski finished with 13 strikeouts, giving him 41 in his last three starts, covering a span of 21 innings. She had 12 strikeouts in a 15-2 win over Rockledge in a Region 2 semifinal game and finished her hitting effort 16 against Belleview.
Eustis only managed three hits against Brittany Michael. Perdicaris ‘RBI singles in the fourth was the Panthers’ last game success, all in singles.
The two points awarded to Brittany Michael were earned and she walked five while removing six.
The was played in front of a loud and capable crowd and featured the top two teams in Class 4A, based on the latest MaxPreps ranking. Eustis entered the game as the top ranked team, with Ridgeview placing No.2.
After winning the semifinals, American Heritage is ranked fourth with a 16-8 record.
Tickets for Friday’s state championship game are $ 9 if purchased in advance at gofan.com. At Legends Way the cost is $ 12 and cash and credit or debit can be used for the game.
Parking costs $ 10 for cars and $ 25 for buses. Concessions – classic standard fare – are available at Legends Way.
The title match will mark the second time the Panthers and Leopards meet this season. Eustis defeated Hernando 7-2 on April 7 at Brooksville.