- March 28, 2012
Photos in the gallery have been updated with names for FPC players.
Matanzas softball pitcher Emma Wood had not allowed a hit or an earned run in 6.1 innings. Heading into the March 9 game at Nease, that was the Pirates’ second most impressive pitching line.
The most impressive? Freshman Leah Stevens struck out 48 batters and walked three in 19.2 innings with a 0.36 earned run average.
Stevens struck out 15 batters in a six-inning no-hitter as the Pirates shut out Flagler Palm Coast 10-0 on senior night, March 4, to improve to 4-0. That came on the heels of her 24-strikeout performance.
FPC fell to 1-3. The Bulldogs were coming off a 6-5, eight-inning loss to Pedro Menendez on March 3.
Stevens struck out 24 batters in 9.2 innings on March 1 as Matanzas defeated Creekside 7-6 in 10 innings.
“That was a huge win for our program,” Matanzas coach Sabrina Manhart said. “Creekside is quality program, a 7A team that will give us points in the ranking system for the playoffs.”
Manhart made a key decision after Creekside had taken a 3-1 first-inning lead. Catcher Emily Warren got hurt in the season opener against Seabreeze and the Pirates' other catcher wasn’t 100 percent. After Wood, who started in the circle, threw home on a play and the runner scored, Manhart called on Stevens to pitch and put Wood behind the plate.
“That changed the momentum of the game," Manhart said. “The day before, we had Emma prepped to play catcher, just in case. She felt really comfortable back there, and you could tell Leah felt comfortable. Against Creekside, we didn’t want things to unravel.”
The last time Wood played catcher, she was 12 years old.
“I caught a little, but not much,” she said.
She was back behind the plate against FPC, catching another spectacular game by Stevens.
“Emma is so athletic, she can play any position,” Manhart said. “She took on that position confidently and led the team through situational stuff.”
Wood said she enjoys catching.
“It’s a cool experience,” she said. “Getting to catch pitchers is a different experience.”
“She’s a natural. She understands what a pitcher needs. She’s so good at framing pitches.”
LEAH STEVENS on pitching to Emma Wood
“She’s a natural,” Stevens said. “She understands what a pitcher needs. She’s so good at framing pitches.”
Through four games, the two pitchers had combined for three shutouts and allowed a total of five hits with two no-hitters. The Pirates won the four games by a combined score of 41-6.
“I feel like I'm getting over my freshman nerves and settling into a groove,” Stevens said. “The whole team is settling in.”
Wood was not only playing flawless softball in the field at two positions, she was also leading the team in hitting with a .714 batting average, four doubles and a home run.
The Embry-Riddle signee hit the homer against FPC. Wood went 3 for 4 with two RBIs. Freshman Skylar Ludovici went 3 for 3. After the game, the Pirates honored their five seniors — Wood, Myracle Pigninelli, Jen Rumplick, Lauren Sampselle and Samantha Alfano.
It was the Pirates’ final game of the season on their home field. On March 7, construction began on a new backstop with a knee wall and netting replacing the fence behind home plate. Matanzas will play the rest of its home games at Indian Trails Sports Complex.
“It should be done in April,” Manhart said. “So, if we make the postseason, hopefully we’ll be able to play (at the high school).”