LAKE PLACID - It's always a thrill for fans when county rivals face off, and Thursday's non-district softball game between Sebring and Lake Placid lived up to the hype.
Blue Streaks pitcher Chelsea Bassett went the distance, as Class 5A Sebring hung on for a 7-4 victory over Class 4A Lake Placid at the Roger Scarborough Memorial Sports Complex.
"Lake Placid had beaten us earlier in the year, so it was nice to see us come out and overcome a few bad plays to get the win," Blue Streaks coach Joe Sinness said. "I'm so proud of Chelsea. She's our workhorse, and she helped settle down our defense when we got a little flustered."
Sebring (9-8) jumped on the scoreboard early, tallying two runs in the top of the first inning. Kiara Antone led off with a single, and Amber Hicks reached on a defensive error when Lake Placid's (5-8) Breauna Corley and Lahna Baker collided near second base. Neither player was seriously injured, but both Antone and Hicks were able to get into scoring position.
Alison Hoffner took advantage of the defensive miscues, belting a sacrifice fly to score Antone and put Sebring up 1-0. Morgan Andrews followed with an RBI single to cap the inning.
After putting up a goose egg in the bottom of the inning, Lake Placid responded defensively in the second. Pitcher Shannon Huber found her rhythm on the mound, breezing through the inning to set up her offense.
And the Green Dragons hitters delivered.
Lake Placid exploded for four runs in the inning, aided by a costly Sebring error.
Courtney Delaney got the fireworks started, leading off with a booming double. Raveen Gobourne followed with a single, and Tamija Douglas walked to load the bases.
The stage was set for Corley, who has pounded pitchers all season with runners in scoring position. Thursday night was no different, as Corley hit a towering pop-fly to shallow center field. Miscommunication between Sebring players let the ball fall and Delaney and Gobourne scampered around the bases to score.
Ashley Royce caught Bassett and the rest of Sebring's infield by surprise, and laid down a bunt, which let her reach first base safely while Corley sprinted home.
Kaeli Spurlock belted an RBI ground out to extend the Dragons lead to 4-2 to round out the inning.
But Lake Placid stagnated from there. The Dragons failed to score another run, while a handful defensive errors let the lead slip away.
A two-run double from Bassett put Sebring back up for good, and the Streaks held on for the three-run win.
"I think our pitchers did a solid job," Green Dragons coach Alesia Cheshire said. "But if I could, I would have made the switch just one inning earlier. It was one of those nights where we just lost the momentum at the wrong time. But overall, I still thought we played pretty well."
Both teams have wrapped up the regular season and will begin district tournament play this week. The Streaks will travel to Hardee (7-6, 3-1) for the first round of the 5A-11 tournament on Tuesday, while Lake Placid makes the short trek to Avon Park (4-7, 0-4) for its 4A-9 series on Monday. Both games start at 7 p.m.
Despite handily sweeping the Red Devils in the regular season, the Dragons will be on the road because of a scheduling conflict with their home field.
"I'm definitely not happy with it and the girls are really bummed," Cheshire said. "That's what we worked all year for - teams want to have that home-field advantage in the postseason. But I told them it should just give you more motivation to go out there and play hard."