AVON PARK - Lake Placid made the most of losing home field advantage in the opening round of the Class 4A-District 9 softball tournament, battering rival Avon Park by a score of 11-1 on Monday night to dispatch the Red Devils in only six innings.
"Avon Park sent a slow-pitch girl out there tonight, and we're not used to that," Green Dragons coach Alesia Cheshire said. "But we've been working hard in the cages on both slow and fast pitch - because you never know what you're going to see - but we've been hitting the ball well and it showed tonight. I'm really proud of the girls."
The Dragons (7-8, 4-4) played Lakeland's McKeel Academy (15-7, 8-0) on Tuesday night in Frostproof. Results were not available at press time.
While the loss ended a tumultuous season for first-year Avon Park (4-13, 0-8) coach Brittany Spencer, the Devils showed great improvement in defeat.
"They played hard and got after it," Spencer said. "And that's all I can ask for. Maybe a few more hits fall and it's anybody's game."
Avon Park scored first, when Dragons pitcher Holly Krett walked in a run with the bases loaded. Sensing Krett was struggling on the mound, Cheshire switched her with center fielder Shannon Huber late in the first inning.
The move paid off, as Huber shutout the Devils, scattering five hits over 5 2/3 innings and fanning four batters.
After a sluggish start defensively, Lake Placid belted consecutive triples in the bottom of the first to take a 3-1 lead.
Lahna Sedatol was hit by a pitch after Courtney Delaney flied out, and Anne Weber-Callahan brought Sedatol home by smashing a pitch deep to right field.
Raveen Gobourne launched a pitch to the outfield fences to plate Weber-Callahan. Krett capped the inning with a sacrifice fly to score Gobourne.
Avon Park hit the ball well for most of the game, but the Dragons defense was impenetrable. In the top of the second, the Devils seemed primed to explode, but the Dragons turned a 1-6-3 double play to nullify Avon Park's scoring opportunity.
Krett tallied her second RBI in the bottom of the third, scoring Weber-Callahan before a wild pitch let Gobourne scamper home to give the Dragons a 5-1 lead.
In the fourth inning, a passed ball with the bases loaded let Delaney sprint home.
Unable to start, Lake Plaid's Breauna Corley made her presence felt in the sixth inning. Sedatol and Weber-Callahan opened the inning with back-to-back singles, while Gobourne reached on a walk.
Corley has been deadly all season with runners in scoring position, and Monday was no different. The Lake Placid senior slugged a bases-clearing triple to give the Dragons a commanding 9-1 lead.
"I couldn't start her because she got here late," Cheshire said. "Everyone's got to work hard and earn their play, but I put her in and she made the most of it. She's on a really hot streak right now."
Shannon Huber followed Corley with a bunt single, and Kiylier Baker reached on a walk. A wild pitch let Corley trot home to make it 10-1 in Lake Placid's favor.
After Ashley Royce walked to load the bases, Avon Park walked Delaney to send Huber home and trigger the 10-run mercy rule.