Lake Butler, FL. Written By: Kyrin Mayfield
The Gainesville Hurricanes and Union County Tigers faced off on Thursday night in the season finale for both teams. After facing a daunting schedule, the Hurricanes and Tigers were looking to finish strong before post-season play.
Gainesville played six games against four of the top fifteen teams in the state (Trenton, Oakleaf, Pembroke Pines Charter, and Lakewood Ranch). They took the number one team in the state, Lakewood Ranch, to fourteen innings. The Canes were battle tested. The Tigers also faced some tough opponents. They played three games against the top two teams in Class 1A (Trenton and Bell).
Union County was locked into the second seed for the district playoffs and Gainesville clinched the top seed for theirs, a good start to making a deep post season run.
The Hurricanes lead the series 4-1 since 2015. They squeaked out a 2-1 win in last year’s game. Alissa Humphrey pitched a complete game for Gainesville allowing one run and striking out thirteen. Ashton Palmer went 2-for-3 with a run. Union County’s Kamaya Cohen also went 2-for-3 with a run.
Humphrey and Cohen have been killing it for their teams all season long. Unsurprisingly, they were key players in this game as well.
The scoring started in the bottom of the first for Gainesville. Parris Wiggs led off with a double to right and later stole third. Briana Boggs hit a sacrifice fly deep to center to allow Wiggs to score the first run of the game.
On the defensive side, Hurricanes starting pitcher Humphrey was lights out. She struck out four of the first five batters she faced.
Gainesville was looking to score again in the bottom of the third. Wiggs led off with a single and attempted to steal second. However, a strong throw by catcher Tiffany Clark led to Wiggs being tagged out just before she could reach the base.
With the score still 1-0, Union County was desperately trying to get on the board. Starla Vaughn led off the top of the sixth with a single, just the Tigers third hit of the game. The next batter attempted to bunt the ball to move Vaughn into scoring position but ended up popping it up to Humphrey who caught it and quickly threw to first for a double play.
Both teams were pitching well and playing great defense. It looked like the Tigers would have one more chance to tie the game in the top of the seventh. However, the game took a turn for the worst for them.
In a surprising turn of events, the first nine batters in the bottom of the sixth reached base. The Hurricanes unloaded for nine runs on six hits and won the game 10-0 via mercy rule. The score definitely didn’t represent the game as Union County played very well defensively for five innings. However, it shows that Gainesville has the power to explode at any moment.
Humphrey was brilliant again. She pitched a six-inning shutout allowing only three hits, three walks and struck out twelve. Only eight balls were put in play. Wiggs had a near perfect day from the plate for the Hurricanes going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs. Ayanna Woodard also added a pair of hits with two RBIs and a run.
Lauren Moody pitched great through five innings for Union County. She allowed one run on six hits and two walks before walking the first two batters in the sixth, both of whom later came around to score. Cohen had the only extra base hit for the Tigers.
Gainesville (17-7) opens district tournament play against Vanguard on Tuesday. Union County (10-11) plays Williston next week for their first game of the district tournament.