NEW PORT RICHEY — Jamie Martin wanted to make sense of a senseless loss.
After four seasons coaching Land O'Lakes, she couldn't grasp dropping one to slumping Ridgewood this month, which resulted in back-to-back losses that ultimately cost the Gators the 5A-7 No. 1 seed and jeopardized their shot at the Sunshine Athletic Conference title.
So before last week's game at Zephyrhills she asked veteran coach Craig Milburn to help make sense of what some have called the April Fool's Day disaster.
"He goes, 'You're going to get one of those every 10 years,' " Martin said. "…He's been in the game long enough so I'll take it from him."
The Gators salvaged the regular season and clinched the SAC title last week, then registered a resounding revenge victory, 24-2 over Ridgewood on Tuesday. Now Land O'Lakes (16-2) is in the final with a shot to avenge its other loss to River Ridge, 16-2 winners Tuesday over Central.
"I just wanted to make sure," Gators coach Jamie Martin said referring to the decisive victory. "…Everybody hit the ball; there wasn't just one standout person. Our lineup's not top heavy; it's pretty strong all the way through."
The Gators overwhelmed the Rams (7-17) with 22 hits. Alexis Aubuchon had four doubles to go 4-for-4, Loren Smith had a home run to finish 2-for-3 and Kasey Murray went 3-for-4. Land O'Lakes also batted around twice in the third inning.
Meanwhile, River Ridge (17-6) got 10 hits, including a pair of doubles by Sarah Simon. The Royal Knights overcame a 2-0 deficit to Central (6-14) in the first to score 16 unanswered runs; they took the lead with a seven-run third inning. River Ridge coach Ernie Beck put a stop to the sloppy play — three errors that led to two runs — telling his players to tighten their defense.
"You remember them (the bad losses)," Beck said. "…(Land O'Lakes) didn't hand us the No. 1 seed but by us beating them we got home field. You don't forget those because it's something that shouldn't happen."
Class 2A, District 9
Hurricanes tripped up
Bishop McLaughlin defeated Indian Rocks Christian twice during the regular season. IRC, however, won when it counted most. The Golden Eagles, behind timely hitting and a stout defense, defeated the Hurricanes 6-3 to advance to the tournament final.
Class A, District 11
Academy at the Lakes advanced to the final with a six-inning, 10-0 victory over Lakeside Christian. AATL faces Canterbury, a 24-0 winner over Oldsmar, Thursday at 4:30 p.m. for the district title.