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Pasco snaps two-year softball skid vs. Land O'Lakes

DADE CITY — Colena Lazar was in control.

Kasey Murray lost hers.

The anticipated pitching matchup between arguably the two best players on the North Suncoast, Land O'Lakes' Michelle Bradley and Lazar, never materialized Friday night. But Murray proved to be more than adequate until a shrinking strike zone made for an expanding Pirates offense.

Relying on walks to get things going and then some key base hits from their seniors to bring the runners home, the Pirates managed a surprisingly easy 6-0 victory at the Boneyard in Dade City.

The Sunshine Athletic Conference showdown turned into a slowdown, with Lazar slowly and deliberately setting the Gators down to give Pasco its first win over Land O'Lakes (11-2) in two years.

"This is big," said Pirates coach Shamalene Broner. "We haven't beaten them in the past couple of years. It meant a lot for our seniors."

One of those seniors was Lazar, the imposing lefty who has been the county's winningest pitchers the past three years.

Bothered early on by a small strike zone that at times unsettled both pitchers, she eventually settled into a groove and kept the Gators off balance.

She allowed five singles and just one runner to reach third base, while striking out 10.

"Colena looked awesome," said shortstop Lucy Schneider, another senior. "She kept them off balance all night and that's a good hitting team."

Schneider, hitting over .500 this season, delivered one of the big hits for the Pirates (14-1).

After striking out the previous inning but fouling off a handful of pitches in the process, she drilled a two-run single down the leftfield line to make it 4-0 and break the game open.

To that point, Murray had pretty much been matching Lazar pitch for pitch.

The Gators sophomore struck out nine through four innings, her only mistakes being the three walks she issued in the fourth. The last of those, to second baseman Emily Pendleton, broke a scoreless tie.

In the fifth, Pasco put the game away.

LaToya Lewis bunted her way on with one out, before Megan Newsome and Colesa Lazar walked. On Lazar's walk, the ball got away from the catcher and allowed Lewis to score, making it 2-0.

After popping out to first and striking out her previous two at-bats, Schneider delivered her hit.

"Before that, I was swinging at her pitcher," Schneider said. "I needed to be more patient and wait for my pitch."

Colena Lazar then drove in Schneider with a hit to rightfield, chasing Murray.

"It happens," said Land O'Lakes coach Jamie Martin. "There were some walks, but it was nothing we shouldn't of been able to recover from."

Martin said that some of the battles Murray had with batters, like long at-bats drawn by Megan Newsome (three walks) and Schneider, may have taken their toll.

That was not a problem for Lazar, whom Broner said "could sit out there and throw all day."

John C. Cotey can be reached at johncotey@gmail.com

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Pasco snaps two-year softball skid vs. Land O'Lakes 03/27/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 27, 2009 11:20pm]
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