Land O'Lakes ekes out win in battle of sophomore aces
LAND O’LAKES – The matchup on the mound was one of the most anticipated this season.
Academy at the Lakes’ Alexis Kilfoyl vs. Land O’Lakes' Callie Turner.
Both are sophomores who will be facing each for quite some time considering they have already committed to Southeastern Conference programs (Kilfoyl to Alabama; Turner to Tennessee). The two specialize in shutting down – and striking out – opponents.
It is difficult to get a hit, much less manufacture a run against either one. Gators coach Mitch Wilkins explained to some Little Leaguers before Tuesday’sgame that the outcome could down to one play.
Sure enough, it did.
In the bottom of the seventh, Land O’Lakes’ Tia Williams led off with a single, then moved to second on a groundout by Brianna Lindner and to third when Ashley Williams reached on an error.
That put Williams in position to score. She headed home once Brooke Stanley made contact and beat the throw on a fielder’s choice for the winning run in a 1-0 victory.
“I was just wanting to see where the ball was hit,” Williams said. “I knew that if it was anywhere near the right side that I was going to go right away because I wanted to get that run in.”
The pitchers allowed a combined seven hits, the last by Williams turning out to be the only costly one. For most of the game, they took turns racking up a dizzying amount of strikeouts.
Turner, who struck out 21 River Ridge batters in a 1-0 victory last month, started by getting batters to whiff for the first 12 outs. She finished with 17 strikeouts.
“I’ve played together with Alexis for a while on travel teams,” Turner said. “This was one we both looked forward to. We sent good luck texts to each other earlier in the day.”
The two pitchers had to get through a steady amount of rain the last two innings. That made it tough to grip the ball.
“I always want a perfect pitch so I kept asking for a new ball when I was out there,” Turner said. “I was ready to keep going if we had to, but I was really wishing that we could get it done in the seventh.”
Kilfoyl, who finished with 11 strikeouts, had retired nine straight batters heading into the seventh.
Land O’Lakes (21-3) has won four straight. On Tuesday, the Gators also won a coin toss for the No. 1 seed in next week’s Class 6A, District 7 tournament.
“I knew this could down to a hit, a bunt or a bang-bang play,” Wilkins said. “This is what we expected because the pitchers are so good.”