Ahead of playoffs, West Orange softball boasts improved depth at pitcher -- Observer Preps
Beyond the team's undisputed ace — Georgia signee Lauren Mathis — the Warriors have seen promise from three underclassmen on the mound ahead of tomorrow's regional quarterfinal.
| 4:00 p.m. May 2, 2017
Fresh off of winning its third district championship in as many seasons, the West Orange softball team is preparing to host a regional quarterfinal playoff game May 3.
As champions of District 9A-3, the Warriors (23-3) will host Lake Nona — the runner-up in District 9A-4 — at 7 p.m.
Embarking on their first playoff run since winning the FHSAA Class 9A State Championship last spring, West Orange does so with an unexpected amount of depth on the mound. Head coach Todd LaNeave has been cautious this spring with ace Lauren Mathis, a Georgia signee who was Florida's Miss Softball in 2016.
That caution has led to some dividends.
Instead of riding his ace all the way this spring, LaNeave gave several opportunities to junior Landry Newgent (1.575 ERA over 53 innings), who has blossomed into a pitcher capable of being the ace next spring when she is a senior.
Underclassmen Lauren Evans (0.583 ERA in 12 innings) and Katie Benedict (0.000 ERA in 9.2 innings of work) also got looks this spring, meaning that — beyond their ace — the Warriors have some additional tools in their toolbox as they navigate the state playoffs.
“To have four pitchers — all with different styles and with different go-to pitches — it’s crazy but it’s nice,” LaNeave said. “I did not expect, going into the season, that it would end up working out that way.”
When West Orange took the field and defeated Dr. Phillips April 20, it was head coach Todd LaNeave’s 100th victory since taking over the team four seasons ago after former coach Bobby Brewer left to coach baseball at Ocoee High.
During that time, LaNeave has averaged better than 25 wins per season and coached the program to its second state championship last spring.
“I’m blessed, to be honest with you,” LaNeave said. “I feel very fortunate that our athletic director, Adam Miller, gave me the opportunity when Bobby Brewer stepped down. He took a chance on me.”