LAKE PLACID - In sports, there's nothing more deadly than a team that plays as a unit.
Monday night, Lake Placid showcased just how detrimental that can be for an opponent, as the Class 4A Green Dragons trounced Class 5A DeSoto by a score of 12-2 in a five inning, mercy-rule shortened affair.
"It was awesome. The girls are hitting really well right now," said Green Dragons coach Alesia Cheshire. "We've worked really hard on beefing that up and the girls have gotten really confident in themselves as well as one another."
Lake Placid's (7-3) offense was rolling early. Kaeli Spurlock and Holly Krett opened the bottom of the first inning with consecutive singles. After Anne Weber-Callahan flew out, Courtney Delaney singled to load the bases.
The stage was set for Raveen Gobourne.
Despite getting down early in the count, Gobourne stayed calm at the plate, With a full count, she blasted a two-run single to give the Dragons a 2-0 lead.
Tamija Douglas added a third run with a sacrifice fly to end the scoring boon.
With Lake Placid's Krett dominating DeSoto's (2-5) hitters, the Dragons were free to swing away.
Lake Placid added two more runs in the bottom of the third to stretch its lead to 5-0. Delaney reached base with a leadoff single.
Lahna Baker's sacrifice bunt moved Delaney to second, and Cheshire was rewarded for her decision to replace Delaney with a pinch runner, as Hali Pollard scampered home from second on a wild pitch. Douglas drew a walk and Breauna Corley plated her with a booming single into the outfield.
"We've been working a lot on team-building," Cheshire said. "Things like morale, cohesiveness, confidence, and trust. They've just been working really, really well together. And tonight it showed." The Bulldogs responded with two runs in the top of the second inning. Seeing that Krett needed a break, Cheshire made the switch for Shannon Huber.
"Our pitchers know now that when they're having trouble, it's OK to be pulled out and put somewhere else," Cheshire said. "They don't get upset with themselves because they know they just need that little break. You can't throw forever. And their self-confidence has just soared this year."
Inserting Huber to relieve Krett paid off. Despite loading the bases, Huber got herself out of a jam when she forced DeSoto into back-to-back ground balls to end the inning.
The Dragons gave Huber some breathing room in the bottom of the fourth, exploding for six runs via a two-out rally.
With runners on the corners, Gobourne tallied her third and fourth RBIs of the game when she hit a bomb to left field. DeSoto's fielder mishandled the ball, and Spurlock and Delaney scampered home to make it 7-2.
A passed ball on a full count opened up first base to Baker and let Gobourne stroll home. Another walk put runners at first and second, giving Corley the chance to register her second RBI of the night. She made good on the opportunity, bringing home Spurlock with a single.
Ashley Royce knocked in the final run of the inning. Her check swing caused some confusion among DeSoto's infield, and she made it to first safely while Corley raced home.
Huber extinguished DeSoto's hopes for a comeback with a brisk fifth inning.
And in the bottom of the fifth, Corley sent Dragon fans home early and happy, tallying her third RBI to trigger the 10-run mercy rule.
Although the season is still young, Cheshire said the only person stopping them is themselves.
"I tell the girls, 'the only thing stopping you is yourself,'" Cheshire said. "If you make a mistake, and it's going to happen, you've got to pick yourself up, take a deep breath, and go on. And these girls have learned that it's OK to make a mistake, but to get up, and overcome it."
"It's been a long time since I've had such team camaraderie," Cheshire added. "They're working together and most importantly, they're having fun. I love it."
The Dragons next game will be Friday at 7:30 p.m. when Lake Placid travels to Frostproof to take on the Bulldogs in a critical Class 4A-District 9 match up.