LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Winning district championships has become routine for the Lakewood Ranch softball team, but it never gets old.
The host Mustangs won the Class 6A-District 12 title with a 10-0 romp over Palmetto on Friday night for their fourth straight district crown.
It was especially gratifying for seniors Taylor Newton and Jenn Trotter, who started all four years for Lakewood Ranch. Both played an instrumental role in this game, which was stopped in the bottom of the sixth because of the 10-run mercy rule.
Newton drove in three runs with a double and single. Trotter, the Mustangs' second baseman, had two hits and two runs-batted-
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in. Another senior, shortstop McKaley Goodale, had two hits and two RBIs.
"It feels awesome to start a winning tradition and then keep it going for four years," said Newton, the Mustangs' centerfielder. "They are all the same winning is happy, especially this last one. I really wanted it bad. We've had a rough season with so many injuries and tonight we were hot. We are all starting to hit."
Lakewood Ranch (17-8-1) banged out 11 hits. Eight of the nine batters in its lineup reached base and seven had at least one hit. Amber Wimmer's two out double in the sixth scored Goodale who led off the inning with a single and accounted for the final run.
The Mustangs broke the game open with five runs in the fourth on six hits that was sparked by two-singles from Goodale and Newton.
Amanda Rak was the benefactor of the all the onslaught. The sophomore right hander struggled a little with her control but struck out 13 and allowed only two hits while issuing five walks. She didn't get the defensive support she is accustomed to with Lakewood Ranch committing five errors.
"It feels real good to get all those runs. It relaxes me and gives me confidence," Rak said. "The runs let me feel comfortable all game. I didn't have my best game tonight, but all that hitting made me feel I could do it."
Palmetto (14-9) had runners on in every inning but the sixth. The Tigers biggest threat came in the third when they loaded the bases on two errors and a walk, but couldn't push across a run.
Sarah Diaz opened the fourth with a double, but Rak struck out two straight and after a walk ended the inning on a ground out. The only other hit for the Tigers was a first inning single by Jordan Whitaker.
"Tonight, we had people on base, but the hits didn't fall our way to score them," Palmetto head coach Tammy Stinton said. "The team that puts in the ball in place the most usually scores the most runs. But we have a young team. We don't have any seniors."
Both teams return to action Thursday in the Class 7A-Region 3 quarterfinals. Lakewood Ranch will play host to Tampa Sickles and Palmetto travels to face Dover Strawberry Crest. It was the second straight district championship for Lakewood Ranch head coach Tony Cummins, who took the Mustangs to the state final four last year.
"We played what the situation dictated and I am tickled with the big batting tonight," Cummins said. "Our defense could've been better. We had a lot of errors, which was very unusual for us. Taylor is my rock. She is the kid you look to for everything. She is going to be missed."