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LAND O'LAKES TEAMS END SEASON AT STATES

The junior softball, junior baseball and senior baseball teams went 1-2 in pool play.

For Land O'Lakes Little League, the season has come to a close. All three of its remaining teams in state tournament play - junior softball, junior baseball and senior baseball - all went 1-2 in their respective pools.

"I think that the Land O'Lakes Little League board has put a lot of time in effort into making our (entire) program competitive while still keeping it recreational," said Karla Turcotte, the vice president of Little League Softball and a junior softball coach. "We put a lot of time and effort into our kids' programs."

Turcotte and her team were happy to make it as far as they did. Other softball teams in Land O'Lakes have been to the state tournament but did not have to play to get there.

"The girls were happy to get there," Turcotte said. "It was the first girls team that has gone to state and earned its way to state."

On Friday in Bloomingdale, the girls lost to Indian River 5-3. On Saturday, Land O'Lakes split its doubleheader, first winning to Weston 8-6 and then losing to Naples 8-3. Turcotte was proud of her team's hitting and the fact that her players hung in as long as they did.

"In all-stars, little mistakes make the difference between the winners and the losers, and the team that makes the least mistakes is the team that moves on," Turcotte said. "Unfortunately, it was the other team in this case."

Coach Scott Hilgenberg's senior baseball team went 1-2 in Winter Garden, and just as Hilgenberg had worried, new pitch-count rules affected his team. A 9:30 start Friday, combined with pitching changes, caused Land O'Lakes' game against Boynton Beach to end in the sixth inning, due to a curfew rule. The early finish resulted in a 7-1 loss for Land O'Lakes.

"In the first game of the tournament, it wasn't against us, a team used 10 pitchers," Hilgenberg said. "When you make 10 pitching changes in a game, the game is not going to be done in two hours."

Hilgenberg said they had been filling the bases all night, and an extra inning or even a few extra at-bats could have changed the outcome. According to Hilgenberg, this is the first year that the pitch-count rule has been in affect. It used to be done by innings as opposed to pitches thrown.

Saturday's first game proved to be uplifting. Hilgenberg's team picked apart Tamarac 15-4 in six innings. After the decisive win, they were ready to take on Golden Gate National. The winner of that matchup would move on to the finals.

"They were ahead of us 12-0 after three innings, but we began chipping away, chipping away, chipping away, and it was 12-8 with the bases loaded, two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning," Hilgenberg said.

Land O'Lakes was hopeful when Joe Connely stepped up to the plate, due to his two home runs in the game and the fact that the fences were only 300 feet.

Connely ended up popping out to Golden Gate's second baseman, finishing Land O'Lakes' run at the state all-star tournament.

The junior baseball team also went 1-2 in their tournament in Port St. Lucie. The team lost its first game Friday 3-2 against Viera\Suntree. Land O'Lakes split its doubleheader with a 8-5 win against Coral Springs and a 7-4 loss to Fort Myers.

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