The Mustangs defeated Miami Palmetto 17-2 Friday afternoon in Clermont
The Lakewood Ranch High softball team came into the state tournament confident in its ability to score runs.
It showed why on Friday.
The Mustangs (29-2) scored five runs in the first inning against Miami Palmetto High (24-5) in a Class 7A state semifinal in Clermont and never looked back, beating the Panthers 17-2 in four innings. Junior outfielder Cassidy McLellan hit two home runs, including one on the third pitch of the game, and knocked in three runs, while junior infielder Kelsey Vogel went 4-4 with four RBIs to lead the team. All nine of the Mustangs' starters recorded at least one hit.
Thanks to the offensive explosion, Lakewood Ranch will play Park Vista High (29-0) in the state championship game at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Clermont's Legends Way Ballfields.
"The team has been seeing the ball really well," Mustangs Coach TJ Goelz said. "The last month we have focused on them saying, 'Look, we're not going to get to the last game and then get shut out.' We're doing drills on taking pitches [out of the zone]. They get four or five pitches at a time, and if they take two pitches that are balls, that's excellent. We give them that feedback. We work off of that because that's what it takes [to score runs] here. If you stay off of those pitches and then they start coming over the plate, I like out chances of being successful."
Lakewood Ranch junior Ella Coiner got the start on the mound and impressed, allowing one hit and zero walks in four innings. Neither of the two runs Miami Palmetto scored were earned runs; the Mustangs committed six errors in the field, which allowed two Panthers to score in the first inning. Coiner never looked rattled, Goelz said, which is why he let her pitch all four innings despite having his full complement of arms ready to go, including sophomore Olivia Laney (0.63 ERA), who has been out since the May 6 with arm soreness.
Goelz said there's a chance multiple pitchers could see action Saturday.
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