Softball: Thursday’s Class 5A state semifinal preview

Softball state semifinals

All games at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont. Admission is $9 in advance, $12 on the day of the event. Parking is $10 for cars, $25 for buses. 

Land O’ Lakes (23-7) vs. Pace (20-6), 2

How they got here: Land O’ Lakes d. Seminole 8-0, d. River Ridge 3-1, d. Palmetto 6-3. Pace d. Pensacola Escambia 13-8, d. Gulf Breeze 10-8, d. Middleburg 8-5. 

Outlook: The Gators, ranked No. 2 in 5A by MaxPreps, are making their third state semifinal appearance in the past five years and their first since 2018. This year’s trip was challenging. Land O’ Lakes was a district runnerup and had to win three straight playoff games on the road against quality opponents. Timely hitting and effective pitching have been the hallmarks of the Gators’ success during this stretch. Mia Fields, a freshman, took over as Land O’ Lakes’ ace and has allowed just four runs in the last three games. Nehanda Lewis, a UCF commit, has hit safely in seven straight games. The Patriots, ranked No. 5 in 5A, have won seven straight and 15 of their past 16. The last three were slugfests with Pace winning them by a combined score of 31-21. 

Team leaders

CategoryLand O’ LakesPace
Batting averageNehanda Lewis .487Shelby McKenzie .513
RBIsNehanda Lewis 39Shelby McKenzie 23
Home runsHannah Purcell, Nehanda Lewis 3Shelby McKenzie 7
ERAMia Fields 1.62Shelby McKenzie 0.20
StrikeoutsMia Fields 62Jayden Heavener 242