LAKE PLACID - Alesia Cheshire has been preaching patience at the plate all season.
Her advice resonated with her Green Dragons on Monday night, as Lake Placid cruised past Avon Park in softball by a score of 16-1 in only three innings.
"A lot of our troubles came from us swinging too early or swining too late," the Dragons coach said. "But all the girls, especially Raveen Gobourne, who was in a slump last year, really turned their hitting around. It was a total team effort tonight."
The Class 4A-District 9 game improved Lake Placid to 9-7 overall and 2-4 in district play. The Red Devils dropped to 4-6 overall and 0-4. Lake Placid completed the season sweep of Avon Park with the resounding win.
With Holly Krett starting on the mound for the Dragons, Avon Park's bats struggled to get going. Krett retired the side in the top of the first inning, striking out two Devils.
Using the defensive momentum, Lake Placid tallied four runs in the bottom of the inning. After loading the bases, a wild pitch from Avon Park's Tiffany Phillips let Kaeli Spurlock scamper home to put the Dragons up 1-0. Anne Weber-Callahan blasted a two-run double to make it 3-0 in Lake Placid's favor, while Breauna Corley belted an RBI ground out to cap the inning.
In the top of the second, Avon Park's offense seemed primed to counter the Dragons spurt.
Victoria Perry reached on an error by Spurlock. Krett rebounded to strike out Shaylyn Barcinas, but Kierce Holly ripped a double to score Perry and cut the Dragons lead to 4-1.
Undaunted, Krett shut the door on any hopes of a Devils comeback by striking out Shalonda Jordan to get out to the inning. Krett gave up just one run while fanning five in two innings. Shannon Huber relieved Krett, tossing a scoreless third inning.
"The girls did great tonight," Cheshire said. "We didn't have any let down on defense after getting a big lead. And after a sluggish spring break, we've come back and won two in a row."
Lake Placid exploded for 12 runs in the bottom of the second, triggering the mercy rule to end the game early.
The Dragons nearly cycled through their lineup twice, as Corley punctuated the inning with a three-run homer.
"We're definitely going to miss her and all the other seniors," Cheshire said. "I've been coaching them since they were in seventh grade. They grew up with me. I'm so proud of them and can't wait to see where they go from here."
McKeel Academy has dominated 4A-9 for most of the season. The Wildcats are undefeated in district play and possess the best overall record. But Cheshire said the Dragons are looking forward to a competitive district tournament.
"I think this game really gave us a good confidence boost," she added. "We're not exactly where I wanted us to be at this point in the season, but a big win like this, where everyone is doing well - out on the base paths, on defense, at the plate - really does well for us."
"And I tell the girls, if we play like this every night, we can beat anybody."
Lake Placid wrapped up its district schedule Monday night. The Dragons will travel to Fort Myers on Friday for a varsity-only game against Class 4A Gateway Charter at 6 p.m. Lake Placid beat the Griffins 11-1 on March 28.
The 4A-9 district tournament will be in Frostproof from April 14-15, with the championship game played on April 18.