The youth movement in Zephyrhills High School softball came to play as a pair of freshmen took control of the final game of the regular season to help the Lady Bulldogs to a 4-3 over Academy at the Lakes and their third straight win.
Isabella Rivera and Hannah Helms accounted for five of the Lady Bulldogs’ seven hits; including three doubles, and drove in three runs.
The combination of Helm and Rivera were a force on the field as Helm pitched a complete game allowing just five hits, two earned runs while striking out six batters. Rivera, the Lady Bulldogs catcher, was a wall behind the plate and made a key tag at home to keep the Wildcats from tying the game.
In the last week, Lady Bulldogs’ Coach Kristen Dumont has seen the team’s senior leadership and a strong group of underclassmen gel together as she knew they could. In the last three games, Zephyrhills picked up win against Mulberry, Springstead and Academy at the Lakes.
“With so many of them being underclassmen, it has been a trust issue this season and these younger players have consistently proved themselves on the field and in the batter’s box,” Dumont said. “Tonight was a perfect example with the way Hannah pitched for us.”
In addition, it appears the Bulldogs have broken what Dumont has called the “fifth inning curse,” where the Bulldogs would watch games get away from them during the final three innings of game.
“We have broken the curse at the perfect time and now we’re heading on to districts,” Dumont said.
The Bulldogs advance automatically to Tuesday’s second round of the Class 4A-District 9 playoffs after Hudson forfeited the first round game. Zephyrhills face Nature Coast, a team they have played twice with unfavorable results.
“We’ve been pretty good the last three games,” Dumont said. “We got the bats going. Hopefully we can do to Nature Coast, what we did to Springstead. The third time is a charm.”