Rivalries are made of this.
Emotions running rampant, crowd noise ringing in your ears and heart rates doubling with every pitch.
All you need are two good teams, a championship at stake and bordering neighborhoods.
That’s what Braden River and Lakewood Ranch have.
These are not separate towns yet, but this is a border war with all the trimmings.
Softball never had it so good.
The teams battled for their district title Friday night, and anyone with a faint heart was advised to stay home.
OK, maybe not, but it sounds good!
East Manatee has grown up. You can have Manatee and Southeast in football, but this part of the county has created its own version of the Hatfields and the McCoys.
Courtney Mirabella is the gunslinger, who averages nearly two strikeouts an inning and has taken Braden River to national prominence.
It’s amazing what one pitcher can do in softball.
The Pirates are rated the 15th-best team in the country by Max Preps. Lakewood Ranch would like to be back on the throne the Mustangs feel once belonged to them.
It wasn’t that long ago when Lakewood Ranch finished the season undefeated, and its name was traveling across the country at warp speed.
Eighth-seeded Port Charlotte brought them back to reality in the cruelest way, beating the Mustangs in the district semifinals to end their season without getting a chance to vie for a state championship.
Melissa Dowling was the star pitcher on that team. She is now playing professionally in Europe, but her father, Joe, is the Lakewood Ranch coach.
He would like get some payback, though it wasn’t Braden River that ruined his season.
Best thing about this matchup is it’s a rivalry under control. So far there have been no reports of tree poisoning.
Manatee County is football country, no doubt about that. But it’s April, the Rays are out of town, and Lakewood Ranch is fighting Braden River for a district championship.
It will raise your blood, and pump the adrenalin.
Title IX, see what you have created. These girls are tough. They won’t take a back seat to anyone.
Braden River-Lakewood Ranch softball. Can you believe it? Everyone seems to have an opinion.
Is Mirabella better than Joe Dowling’s daughter?
They fought it out Friday night, didn’t settle the issue and now you could add Lakewood Ranch’s winning pitcher Huntyre Elling to the argument. But that’s what rivalries do. They leave questions hanging.
Hey, these two teams could go at it again in the region tournament.
The landscape is changing. When Lakewood Ranch was created, it was about the Mustangs and Southeast. Now it’s a real neighborhood thing.
Braden River and Lakewood Ranch are separated by a good morning jog. They play good softball. All of the players know each other like Kobe knows CP3, but it doesn’t matter when they play each other.
There would be a lot at stake, even if there was nothing at stake.
That’s the mark of a good rivalry, and that’s what we have here.
Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 745-2112.