LAND O' LAKES - You add quality pitching to quality hitters and you get an equation for a winning team.
Thus far, Land O' Lakes (4-0) has reaped the benefits of such a combination with pitchers Michelle Bradley and Kasey Murray and hitters Alexis AuBuchon, Loren Smith and Murray, just to name a few.
"My philosophy has always been getting the runs up there, having a very strong offense and strong pitching with Kasey and Michelle, so that helps our defense out a lot," Land O' Lakes coach Jamie Martin said. "You score runs, you win."
That's apparent as the Gators mercy-ruled their first three opponents of the season. In addition to the hot bats, Land O' Lakes has been a team somewhat in transition.
Martin has vowed to put her best players on the field at once and because of that, some are playing different positions - including AuBuchon, who has been the Gators' first baseman for the previous three seasons.
"Everyone's doing what they can for the benefit of the team," Martin said. "AuBuchon is probably an all-state first baseman, but she's out in left field because she knows that's the best thing for the team.
"I'm playing my best nine hitters. ... Some of my coaching philosophies are etched in stone, but with different teams are different philosophies. With this team, it's definitely going to be playing my best nine hitters and I'm kind of riding the arms of my pitchers a little bit more, which I'm hoping will see us through a few games."
CHANGE OF PACE: Gulf C Devin Fellman wasn't the happiest kid following last week's 13-5 loss to River Ridge. The fact the team lost was just piling on to her 1-for-4 performance at the plate.
It was a good thing for River Ridge, but horrible news for Sunlake the following night. Fellman, a senior who will play softball at St. Petersburg College, turned in a 3-for-3 performance, which included two doubles, three RBIs and a walk.
"I just relaxed," she said. "The last game, Feb. 21 against River Ridge, I went 1-for-4 and I don't usually do that. Tonight I just was like, you know what, you need to just relax, hit the ball and I did. That's how it works."
REPETITION IS THE KEY: Getting a first-year squad in gear is simple, so to speak. Take care of business during practice.
According to Sunlake coach Johnny Dawkins, he's starting five freshmen, two juniors and two sophomores. The team is comprised of just four players who play travel ball during the offseason and a handful have "played Little League at best."
"We just work good, hard fundamentals in practice and do the basics over and over again and it's starting to show," Dawkins said. "We made some nice plays against Gulf that helped us. I think just them seeing what we can be."