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Monday, Sep 25, 2017
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Softball: Sunlake rolls past Wiregrass

WESLEY CHAPEL - Sunlake isn't letting all this winning go to its head. It's getting a bit tough, though, especially after the Seahawks, the top team in Class 4A-8, downed district foe Wiregrass Ranch 12-3 on Friday night. The win keeps them as arguably the top team in Pasco County, yet Pasco (19-4) will have something to say about that when the Pirates travel to Sunlake on Tuesday evening. "Statistically and record-wise, I guess we are (the best team in the county), but I try to keep the team with a level head," first-year Sunlake coach Jami Finan said. "We have to keep it one day at a time, just like this game (and our slow start). It's Wiregrass and they've been playing well, so we have to still take every team serious."
The Seahawks (17-3) found themselves in a quick 2-0 hole against the Bulls (10-5) after a Morgan Vess sacrifice bunt brought home Taylor Mello and Annmarie Richinno scored on an error in center field. Sunlake came right back in the top of the third as an Alex Rogers triple scored Brandi Travis and Chloe Fletcher. In the fourth, Sunlake added four by batting around, including a sacrifice fly by Courtney Durbin, an RBI double by Ashley Orta and Fletcher scoring again, this time on a wild pitch. "When we don't get the lead-off batter on, we have a hard time getting hits," Finan said, "but by the third inning, we got two on and then got up our lead-off batter (Rogers) and took it from there." With Finan resting starting pitcher Tyler Riendeau for Tuesday's date with Pasco, Meghan Durbin got the nod. After a up-and-down first, then the rough second inning, Durbin retired the next nine batterst and struck out six as Sunlake expanded the lead with Rodgers and Fletcher each scoring three times. Rachael Heath started for the Bulls, pitching four innings and giving up seven runs. She was replaced by Mary Sorgenfrei, who pitched a scoreless fifth, but gave up five runs thereafter. The Bulls have struggled the past two nights by facing Pasco and Sunlake back-to-back, losing by a combined score of 23-4. That disheartens coach Vanessa Lefan, who feels her team has changes like night and day when it faces tough competition. "We have to fine our attitude and learn that when you're down by one, you don't give up," Lefan said. "These are good teams, we're not taking anything away from them, but there's no reason for those (blow-out) scores - no matter what. You've seen us play - no reason for that. "It's a seven-inning game," Lefan added. "We work a lot on endurance, so they should be able to have steam to start the game, and then keep it for seven innings. That's the difference between our team and their team. They keep the steam going from inning one to inning seven." Sunlake will now prepare itself for its second regular-season meeting with Pasco, looking to avenge a 11-1 loss on Feb. 11. Yet the players know what's on the line, especially since it's a potential regional semifinal preview. "I definitely know (we) want revenge because that was our first game played and our first loss," Finan said. "Mentally, I think they're ready for Tuesday night, so I guess we'll see who shows up."

Correspondent Mike Camunas can be reached at mike.camunas@gmail.com.

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