Sunlake sisters help spark team unity

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Sat. March 5, 2011 | Andy Villamarzo

Sunlake sisters help spark team unity

LAND O’LAKES — Twin telepathy is usually only seen by close family members.

For the Sunlake softball team, though, they see it every day out on the diamond via junior sisters Courtney and Meghan Durbin. And for a Seahawks group that spent much of the 2009-10 season not seeing eye to eye, the Durbins have brought the current roster closer together through their sisterly bond.

“I think everybody is working together really well this season,” said Courtney Durbin, a leftfielder. “Me and Meghan being sisters has really helped a lot when some of the girls are down. We’re always able to pick everyone up a lot. Just being able to make the girls laugh and keeping everyone upbeat has really helped.

“We seem to get a lot of laughs when me and Meghan start arguing. Our bond, I think, is starting to help the team form a family-like feel.”

Most of the girls who played on last season’s 15-10 team, which fell 7-1 in the Class 4A, District 8 semifinals to Zephyrhills, think the Seahawks have some unfinished business to take care of not only within the district but throughout the North Suncoast. A season-opening 11-1 loss to Pasco left some wondering if the team would underachieve again.

“A lot of people thought after the Pasco game that we’re still the same old Sunlake from last year,” said Meghan Durbin, a second baseman.

“We’re just out there every day working hard and trying to prove everyone wrong. Going into the middle of the season is when we have to play our best because we know that’s when we face our toughest opponents.”

A mental stepping stone was recently passed when Sunlake defeated Mitchell, which reached the 4A region finals last season, 10-0 on the road. The win served notice that these Seahawks (8-1) have higher aspirations than just winning a few games. They want to reach their first postseason.

“We just want to get to districts and show everyone that we’re for real,” Meghan Durbin said.

“We used to be the ones getting 10-run ruled, but now it’s us who’s 10-run ruling everyone and we know we’re capable of that.”

And they definitely have the components to do it. The team is batting an impressive .395 and every senior has signed college scholarships — catcher Shelley Stohler (Hillsborough Community College), shortstop Alex Rogers (UNC Charlotte), first baseman Amanda Solar (University of Tampa), pitcher Tyler Riendeau (Landers University), Chloe Fletcher (College of Charleston) and Ashley Orta (Santa Fe Community College).

Courtney and Meghan also are key contributors, combining for 22 hits, 24 runs and 10 stolen bases.

“(Courtney and Meghan) bring a lot of community involvement to the team,” first-year coach Jami Finan said. “They both are very well-rounded athletes and they both feed off each other really well on the field.

“I knew the team had some problems last season, but it’s my job to help correct those problems from last year. I asked (senior captain) Alex Rogers about the team and she told me everyone was just having so much more fun this season.”

And that team unity might be the Seahawks’ most impressive feat this season.

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