DR. PHILLIPS — The floodgates opened up in the top of sixth inning on Monday, as the West Orange softball team — ranked No. 7 in the state in Class 8A — pushed across 10 runs to take what had been a 6-1 lead over Dr. Phillips and turn that into a 16-1 thumping.
With the win, West Orange improved to a perfect 7-0 on the season, as big innings from the Warriors’ bats continue to play a role in their success.
“We’ve come up with some big innings. In fact, in most of our games,” head coach Todd LaNeave said. “We kind of have had that one big inning that kind of puts it away.”
While the 10-run inning might be what is most remembered from the Monday early-evening showdown, there was a point where, leading just 4-1, West Orange had to get out of some early jams as the Panthers (4-4) advanced runners into scoring position.
That’s where Kelsey Morrison, who allowed just one run over five innings of work, and the Warriors’ defense, came in.
“We’ve been playing really good defense and the pitching has been really good, too,” LaNeave said. “I thought Kelsey threw a great game, even though if you ask her she’ll say she was a little bit off — but I’ll take that.”
Given the program’s history of success and the statewide ranking, LaNeave and his girls know they will get opponents’ best shot on a nightly basis. It is something he encourages his program to wear as a badge of pride — while also encouraging them to remain hungry for more.
“I say ‘be happy about it, but don’t be satisfied,’” LaNeave explained. “We have a lot of goals that we’re trying to reach and we talk about them everyday.”
West Orange will wrap a busy week with a game at rival Apopka on Friday at 7 p.m. The Warriors played the Blue Darters four times a season ago — dropping each contest by just one run — and Friday’s showdown should have a playoff-like atmosphere for a contest early in the season.
Dr. Phillips dropped to .500 with the loss after starting the season 4-1 and outscoring its opponents 46-2 through its first three games.
A pair of losses to rival Olympia last week and now the defeat at the hands of the Warriors will have the Panthers hoping to rebound with a win against district rival Boone on Friday at home at 6 p.m.