LAND O’LAKES — Anytime Land O’Lakes and Sunlake plays against each other is special. The proximity of the Pasco County schools to one another makes the schools instant rivals. But Friday’s softball game was more special because they entered the game undefeated and ranked No. 1 (Land O’Lakes) and No. 2 (Sunlake) in the Times softball poll.
Gators pitcher Callie Turner showed why the improving Seahawks still have a ways to go to climb to the top.
Turner allowed an unearned run with three hits as Land O’Lakes defeated Sunlake 5-1. Turner struck out 12 and walked just one as the Gators improved to 7-0, and she had two of Land O’Lakes’ six hits.
"We were really clutch when we needed it," Turner said. "Both of us were pumped. They got so much better this year so this is a better win this year."
Turner and the Gators got the clutch hits Friday. Brooke Stanley drove in two runs in the first on a two-out single and Brianna Linder drove in two insurance runs with a two-out single in the sixth.
"It’s our rivals, it has nothing to do with the standings or districts but it’s a game our girls will always get up for," Gators coach Mitch Wilkins said. "We’re blessed to have Callie. She throws every pitch with conviction. She’s tough to beat."
Sunlake (6-1) had a season low in hits and runs. Riley Baxter scored Sunlake’s lone run in the second when she doubled and scored on an error.
Despite the loss, Sunlake coach Nelson Garcia said it was a great learning experience for his squad.
"It’s good to have a game like this to see where we’re really at and this game showed we have a lot to work on," Garcia said. "But these girls can hold their heads high because things are fixable and we’re not going to see a girl like that (Turner) in a while. We’re going to see some good pitchers but she’s above that good range."