By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
BRADENTON — Kasi Shaffer lined a double off of Bayshore pitcher Miriam Schmoll in the fourth inning of Wednesday night’s Region 5A-3 quarterfinal, producing a smile between the two longtime friends who also play travel softball together.
For Schmoll, there’d be a lot of smiles throughout the course of the night. For Shaffer and the rest of her Lemon Bay teammates, not so many.
Schmoll struck out 15 to lead the Bruins to a 3-0 win, earning a date with either DeSoto County or Booker in Tuesday’s region semifinals. The University of South Florida signee also drove in a run with a double as part of her 2-for-3 night at the plate, where she’s been red-hot with a .600 batting average and 27 RBI this season.
Defeating Schmoll wasn’t going to be an easy task for Lemon Bay considering she entered the night with a 13-2 record, a .030 earned run average and 169 strikeouts in 90 innings. She struck out the side in the fifth and the seventh, and had at least two strikeouts in six of her seven innings.
It’s the second straight season Schmoll and the Bruins have eliminated the Manta Rays in the region quarterfinals.
“(Schmoll) did a good job. We came in with a very good game plan and we didn’t follow it,” Lemon Bay coach Kim Pinkham said. “She did exactly what she needed to do. She worked the strike zone and took advantage of the strike zone.”
Schmoll scattered three hits, with two coming off the bat of Shaffer. Lemon Bay’s only other hit came via a bunt single by Bailey Grossenbacher in the third.
Shaffer’s double led off the fourth and was Lemon Bay’s best shot at striking against the Bayshore ace. Logan Johnson bunted Shaffer to third, but Schmoll promptly struck out the next two hitters to end the threat.
“We had good practices, shortening up and putting the ball in play. I mean, how many did we pop up? She had 15 strikeouts and we couldn’t get anything going. Kasi hit the ball well, but we have to have more than one person hit,” Pinkham said.
Anna Albers put the Bruins on the board with an RBI single in the first inning before Lemon Bay’s defense made things worse in the third. The Manta Rays committed back-to-back errors to start the frame, which allowed another run to score before Schmoll crushed a double to the wall to put Bayshore up 3-0.
Johnson was on the mound to watch all three runs come across, though both scores in the third were unearned. She lasted three innings and gave up three hits with two walks while striking out two.
“They took advantage of every mistake we made,” Pinkham said. “We said don’t pitch to her if she’s hitting, field the bunts and put the ball in play so that makes it very tough, especially when it was only a 3-0 ballgame.”
Grossenbacher replaced Johnson with no outs in the fourth and held the Bruins at bay the rest of the way. She walked two and gave up just one hit while striking out one.
BAYSHORE 3, LEMON BAY 0
Lemon Bay 000 000 0 — 0 3 2
Bayshore 102 000 X — 3 4 1
WP: Miriam Schmoll. LP: Logan Johnson. Leading hitters: (BS) Miriam Schmoll 2-3, 2B, RBI; Anna Albers 1-3, RBI; (LB) Kasi Shaffer 2-3, 2B. Records: Bayshore 15-4, Lemon Bay 12-13.