A pair of home runs in the top of the final inning proved to be what the Zephyrhills boys’ baseball squad needed to defeat the girls’ softball team in a fundraising exhibition Friday night.
With the softball squad ahead 3-2 in the top of the fourth and final inning, the boys knotted the score and then got back-to-back home runs from Mark Santiago and Mason Denmark to take a 6-3 lead.
“We looked really good and we made the boys sweat for the three innings,” said ZHS Softball Coach Kristen Dumont. “In the beginning, they were up giving signs, but as the game went on, they looked a little worried when we were up on them with one inning to go.
“It was a lot of fun for both teams.”
Adding to uniqueness of the games were the boys squad learning the windmill pitching delivery and learning how to hit the high speed windmill pitches coming from Lady Bulldogs pitchers Alex Bowe-Wooten and Laila Woolfolk. During the second and third inning, Bowe-Wooten picked up five strikeouts including striking out the side in the second inning.
“The girls played well.” Said Zephyrhills Baseball Coach Rusty Guynn said. “We had one big inning that helped us out. This game is big and it’s a lot of fun. This was the last thing we get to do that’s fun before things get serious for the regular season starts.”
The annual Baseball vs. Softball has the most attendance of any game of the season, so the true winners were both programs as the game is used as a fundraiser. Players sold tickets for chicken dinner for weeks leading up to the game and meals were also sold during the game. In all, more than 15 cases of chicken were smoked to go with the baked beans, cole slaw and roll.
“It’s our best turnout of the year,” Dumont said. “Everybody looks forward to this one. Before our practices even started, people were asking if baseball and softball were playing each this year.
“Not only is it our first game of the year, it puts money into both of our programs. It beats doing car washes.”
With the success of the this year’s game, it looks like the game will return in 2024.
“A game like this is fun and it’s good for the school,” Guynn said. “A lot of people came to support us and it’s a good fundraiser. The community comes out and truly helps both programs. It creates a little competition in the school and it’s becoming a big deal. We’re happy to be a part of it.”