Kowboys return entire lineup

Timber Creek junior Lindsey Hendrix fired a one-hitter shutout at Osceola, defeating the Kowboys, 2-0, in Thursday’s Class 9A regional quarterfinal playoff game.

The loss ended Osceola’s season at 17-10. Timber Creek (17-6) advances to face Oviedo in a regional semifinal Tuesday.

Although not over-powering, Hendrix was efficient, striking out 10 and walking five.

“She set the tempo from the start of the game,” Osceola Coach George Coffey said of Hendrix.  “She wasn’t overly fast but she had a lot of spin and did a great job of locating her pitches — in, out, up and down. She kept us off-balanced all night.”

Osceola only managed to get runners in scoring positing three times; its best chance to score came in the sixth when Jaiona Ramos reached on a one-out infield hit and advanced to second on a throwing error. Audra Thompson then walked but Natalia Ferrer’s sharp ground ball to third was turned into an inning-ending double play.

Timber Creek scored in the fourth. Tristin Peace led off with a single to left and advanced to third on Bella Sperry’s bunt single, alertly taking the extra base on the play when Ferrer had to field the bunt. One out later, Peace was ruled safe at home on Kami Chartland’s bunt back to pitcher Shelby Jones. The Wolves tacked on an insurance run on the seventh on another bunt single.

“It looked like the runner was out at home in the fourth, and we just didn’t execute on that second play,” Coffey said.  “But the fact of the matter is that we didn’t do enough on offense to win the game and give Timber Creek the credit for that.”

The loss spoiled junior Jones’ solid pitching performance.

“Shelby pitched a great game for us,” Coffey noted. “She gave up some hits tonight and got into a little trouble but she is a tough competitor with a heart of a lion.  She pitched out of jams all night long and take away those two defensive plays and it might have been a different story.”

The game, played at Coffey Field had a little more meaning that a standard win-or-pack-up-your-locker playoff game. It was the last game for Coffey and his assistant Fred Klammer, as the loss also signaled the end of Coffey’s 25-year run as head coach of the Lady Kowboys. He announced earlier this season it would be his final season as head coach.

“I’ll always remember this team as a group of hard-working players who never quit. Win or lose they handled it with class and we never had a second of drama on this team this year. Just a great group of kids to work with,” said Coffe, who reached the 400-win plateau in 2016. “As far as my coaching career, that will take some more time to digest. We have been coaching since 1995 and it seems like we have been at this school forever.

“All I can really say right now is that the school, the administration, the parents and our players have been family to me. The support everyone has given us has been exceptional and I will miss being around this program tremendously.”

Current assistant and coach-in-waiting Miranda Watford will inherit an experienced team in 2020. No senior started Wednesday’s game; Jones (pitcher), Ramos (center field), Thompson (shortstop), Ferrer (third base), Leyla Laboy (second base), Kendall Thompson (first base) and Maria Nunez (catcher) are all juniors; outfielders Rylee Andrews and Madison Dennis are sophomores and center fielder Ramos is a freshman.