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District softball: Callie Turner, Land O’Lakes rally for title

The Gators win their third championship in four seasons, topping Wesley Chapel 3-2.

LAND O’ LAKES — Thanks in part to an uncharacteristic bout of wildness by ace left-hander Callie Turner, host Land O’Lakes trailed Wesley Chapel 2-1 late in Wednesday’s Class 6A, District 7 final. If only she could redeem herself.

Actually, she did. Big time.

The Tennessee signee followed Brooke Stanley’s two-out infield single with a home run over the left-centerfield fence for a 3-2 win.

“I was just trying to hit it hard and help out my team,” said Turner, a right-handed batter.

Top seed Land O’ Lakes won its third district title in four seasons, including 2017 when it defeated Wesley Chapel en route to the only state title in school history. The Gators (22-5) defeated Pasco in the semifinals before beating the Wildcats for the third time this season.

“These are my cardiac kids,” said Land O’ Lakes coach Mitch Wilkins, noting a 5-4 comeback win over the Wildcats thanks to three runs in the bottom of the seventh earlier this season.

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Wesley Chapel, seeded third in the tournament, had not allowed a run before facing the Gators. The Wildcats (14-6) posted a 4-0 shutout win over Anclote in the opening round before upsetting second-seeded River Ridge 7-0 in the semifinals.

“This one really hurt, but we’ll be back,” Wesley Chapel coach Lauren Pasquale said. “Don’t count us out.”

Turner and Wesley Chapel ace Jordan Almasy, a UCF commit, were locked in a pitchers duel before the Gators’ late rally. Almasy allowed just two hits with four strikeouts and a walk before that final inning.

Turner wound up with a two-hitter, fanning nine and walking eight. Four of those free passes, however, came in the first inning.

Almasy, who led off with a walk, scored on a bases-loaded walk to Allison Fraley and Madelyn Golka, who also walked, raced home on Breana Delgado’s infield groundout that gave Wesley Chapel a 2-0 lead in the top of the first.

The Gators cut that deficit in half with a run in the fourth. Shelby Westbrook led off with a double down the left field line, advanced on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.

Almasy and Morgan Herndon each singled for the Wildcats’ only hits. Wesley Chapel had another scoring chance go awry when it left the bases loaded with two outs in the sixth. Turner struck out Golka to get out of that jam.

“It just came down to hits,” Pasquale said. “The ones they had counted."