BROOKSVILLE —Bloomingdale ace Alexys Lawson was the starter for the first preseason game.
She lasted one inning.
The Florida International signee left with soreness in her arm. The injury lingered, keeping her off the mound for nearly a month (she continued to hit in the lineup).
Lawson eased her way back, facing two batters against Plant on March 1 and going two innings in a blowout win over Spoto last week.
Friday, Lawson pitched her first full game of the season.
It was as if she never left.
Once again, Lawson was dominant. She threw a one-hit shutout with 15 strikeouts in a 2-1 win over previously undefeated Hernando in the opening round of the Leopard Slam.
Lawson got all the run support she needed on Lexie Chevalier's two-run single.
"It was nice having her back," Bulls coach Mark Braddy said of Lawson.
Bloomingdale had to deal with all kinds of injuries the first half of the season. The Bulls (9-4) overcame those setbacks, winning seven straight.
The streak came to an end with a 5-3 loss to undefeated Springstead in the following game of the tournament. Lawson did not pitch, but she performed well at the plate, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.
During Lawson's absence, Bloomingdale discovered how much depth there is with the pitching staff. Trinity Howard went 5-1 with a 1.40 ERA in the past month.
And the Bulls are healthy at the right time with the bulk of their Class 8A, District 6 games still looming.
Sickles 6, Nature Coast 5: Trailing 4-2, the Gryphons rallied in the final two innings to win their third straight. Lauren Lightbody had three hits and Sierra Carter, Naomi Gluck and Kamryn Jackson each had two lead Sickles (9-3).
Sunlake 7, Nature Coast 0: The Seahawks were dominant, jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and cruising to their fourth straight victory in the opening round. Sunlake (11-1) extended its win streak to five with a 9-0 win over Merritt Island in the following game to clinch the top seed in the tournament. Still, Seahawks coach Nelson Garcia said there is room for improvement.
"We just have to work on executing things a little better," Garcia said. "It's those details we'll need down the road, especially in our district (6A-9).