NEW PORT RICHEY — The first thought was disbelief.
After four rainouts there were no clouds, no puddles and not a drop of water to keep Land O'Lakes and River Ridge from playing. Even the cold air biting at everyone's fingers Tuesday night wasn't enough to call it off early.
In signature fashion, Gators ace Michelle Bradley polished off another solid performance, striking out Royal Knights cleanup hitter Michelle McKonly to seal a 5-3 victory.
McKonly represented the tying run with Jenn Karl on second base. The potent River Ridge (11-2) lineup was suddenly silenced by Bradley's 10 strikeouts. The Royal Knights entered the game with six batters hitting .500 or better.
"She came up here and was intense in the game," Land O'Lakes coach Jamie Martin said of Bradley. "She was intense in the game. She threw the ball really well."
Land O'Lakes (12-0) took control of the Sunshine Athletic Conference as the lone undefeated team on the North Suncoast. The Gators broke out quickly, cashing in on a bases-loaded single by Christina Rosario for a 1-0 lead.
"She just started hitting," Martin said. "She came up tonight and had a couple of big hits to help us out."
Brittany Knipp made it 3-0 on a single to score Alexis Aubuchon and Loren Smith.
Land O'Lakes loaded the bases in the first, fourth and fifth innings.
"Everyone had their little key thing to put in," Martin said. "We're starting to just become a really complete team."
River Ridge scored in the third, fifth and seventh innings, but couldn't piece together a string of hits or dig up the big rally other than threatening to tie it in the seventh.
"You can't end the game on ball four," River Ridge coach Ernie Beck said. "You have to swing at strikes."