Hernando has been controlled on occasion — for a few minutes, maybe a couple of innings.
Then things seem to explode.
Softballs start finding their way into the gaps and out of the yard. The offense becomes unhinged . No. 1 hitter. No. 9 hitter. It doesn’t matter.
Suddenly, the frenzy is on and every at-bat seemingly produces a score. It’s like an adding machine gone wild and a tight game becomes a blowout.
Or in the Leopards case, a potential lopsided loss becomes an epic comeback win.
That is what happened in Thursday’s Class 4A state semifinal game against Plantation American Heritage.
Hernando was down 8-2 after four innings. Then the Leopards cut into the deficit, scoring once in the fifth inning and adding three more in the sixth to make it 8-6.
In the seventh, Hernando completed the rally, scoring three runs to pull off a wild 9-8 victory. The Leopards advance to the final for the first time since 2000. They will play Eustis in Friday’s 4A championship game at 4:30. It is a rematch from a game Eustis won earlier in the season.
Thanks to its high-powered offense, Hernando had the capabilities of erasing any deficit. After all, the Leopards scored 267 runs this season, an average of nearly nine per game.
On Thursday, 10 of the 11 players who had at least one-bat recorded a hit for Hernando. Savannah Ellis led the way, going 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. And Solaris Genberg delivered in the clutch with a two-run triple in the top of the seventh inning that brought home the tying and winning run.