District softball: East Lake extends streak into final

The Eagles have the clutch hits to pull away from Seminole down the stretch for a 24th straight win.
Published May 1

PINELLAS PARK — East Lake extended its win streak to 24 games, but it did not come easy.

McKenna Graham and Katie Bright had clutch RBI singles as the Eagles scored two runs in the fifth and sixth innings to pull away from Seminole, 7-3, and advance to the District 8A-7 final.

With the score tied at 3-3 in the bottom of fifth, Ashley Kirkbride led the inning off with a single and Nikki Steiniger reached on a throwing error that turned into a three-base error that Kirkbride scored on to make it 4-3.

Two batters later Bright made it 5-3 with an RBI single.

Steiniger made it 6-3 in the sixth inning with a sacrifice fly that scored Shermaine Caballes. Graham made it 7-3 with an RBI single.

“We’ve been getting the clutch hits all season,” East Lake coach Kristie Delk said. “It’s the way we’ve played all year and they keep showing up in the big moments.”

East Lake (25-1) made it 2-1 in the bottom of the first off a double from Graham. Kirkbride had an RBI single with the bases loaded to put the Eagles ahead 3-1 in the bottom of the second.

Seminole (7-9), however, fought back. Meghan Kimery had an RBI triple in the top of the third inning to make it 3-2. Brianna Pauley tied the score at 3-3 with an RBI single in the top of the fourth inning for Seminole after Taylor Malz reached on an error, one of the three errors for the Eagles.

“It’s frustrating and disappointing because we aren’t going to be able to wins games in the postseason committing errors,” Delk added. “It’s something we try to emphasize. But at the same time they were able to battle back today and we have all season. So that’s a positive. But I want us to clean up things on defense in the district title (game).”

East Lake starter Tori Brennan retired nine of the final 10 batters she faced. One bright defensive spot for the Eagles was in the top of the sixth after Malz reached on another error, Brennan induced a hard grounder from Peyton Hoffman that turned into a 6-4-3 double play.

East Lake will play Pinellas Park in the district championship after the Patriots defeated St. Petersburg 5-1. Katelyn Meadows went 2-for-3 with an RBI double as part of a three-run sixth inning that helped the Patriots pull away from the Green Devils. Justice McCranie struck out seven and gave up three hits for the Patriots.

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