One of the most common sports clichés one will hear is about how hard it is to beat a good team twice, or three times.
It is a common quotable because it is usually true.
To that end, the West Orange softball team will have a unique task on its hands May 9 when it hosts Apopka in the rivals' fifth meeting of the 2017 season. The Warriors (24-3) have defeated the Blue Darters (18-10) in each of those previous four meetings — and the combined score from those four games is not pretty — but the meeting that will matter most comes Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the regional semifinals of the FHSAA Class 9A State Playoffs.
What's more, that combined score (22-3) may not tell the whole story, though, as it includes one outlier blowout and also a one-run and a two-run decision.
We recalled the previous four games below and extracted a key stat from those that will matter when the Warriors and Blue Darters take the field for the final time against each other this spring.
Game One (March 2 at West Orange) — West Orange 2, Apopka 1
Looking back: The Warriors scored twice in the bottom of the first inning and did not score again. With Lauren Mathis allowing just one hit and striking out 14, it turns out they did not need to.
Game Two (March 24 at Montverde Academy tournament) — West Orange 12, Apopka 0
Looking back: The only blowout of the four games, the Warriors racked up 17 hits and scored a run in each of the game's five innings. Lexie Blair went 3-for-3 with 4 RBIs.
Game Three (March 31 at Apopka) — West Orange 6, Apopka 2
Looking back: The Blue Darters left nine runners on base and the Warriors plated three runs in the top of the sixth inning, marking the difference in this one.
Game Four (District 9A-3 Final, April 27 at Apopka) — West Orange 2, Apopka 0
Looking back: Lauren Mathis allowed just two hits in a complete-game effort, striking out 11 along the way. Nyah Vogel tossed six strong innings for the Blue Darters, putting the pressure on the Warriors' defense.
Apopka is averaging less than a run per game (0.75) against West Orange this season. That said, in two of the teams' four meeting, the Blue Darters have pitched and defended well, holding the Warriors to just two runs in each of those contests. If the game goes that direction, Apopka will just need to catch a break that it did not catch on those occasions. If West Orange comes out swinging the bats well, it could be a long night for the Blue Darters.