Young but definitely no green Gator

Published April 27, 2007

LAND O'LAKES - Kasey Murray tends to stand out. She is the small, serious-looking Land O'Lakes third baseman, or pitcher, or consistent hitter. She even has a unique introduction - the team announcer has dubbed her "the super freshman."

At 15, Murray plays beyond her years and is tenacious on and around the bag.

"I am always ready because I don't want to let down the team and I don't want to let down Coach," Murray said. "It has happened before where I make and error and there goes the game. It is the worst feeling ever."

"She's a perfectionist at heart," coach Jamie Martin said. "Even though she might field a ball, if it's not up to her high expectations, she's like, 'Give me another one, Coach.' "

Martin intuitively picked up on her talent early, snagging her for varsity and immediately making her a starter.

"We had preseason conditioning and just from there I could tell that she had natural athleticism," Martin said. "She was one of those kids that came out to every conditioning session and she was just a hard worker. She didn't talk too much, but you could just see that she was naturally athletic.

Despite her prowess at third base, Murray likes to pitch. Michelle Bradley is the Gators' ace, but one day Murray would like to be the go-to hurler.

"If I had my choice, I would pitch every game, but I understand that Michelle is a much better pitcher and older," Martin said. "She has earned her spot and hopefully when I am a senior I will earn my spot."

But Martin has cemented her position as the No. 2, starting seven games and winning every one to finish with a 2.03 ERA. Murray went 6-0 against district opponents; her other win was a shutout against Wiregrass Ranch.

"She has conquered adversity many times," Martin said. "That is the thing that helps develop a great pitcher, making those 3-2 counts with the bases loaded in the seventh inning. She has been there, she is not a new pitcher, she is pretty much a veteran pitcher coming in."

But Martin said Murray injured her back so she will stay off the mound the rest of the season.

Murray is just as good at the plate. With a .317 batting average and 12 RBIs, she makes the middle of the lineup a dangerous place for opposing pitchers.

Murray and the Gators have a chance to continue their postseason success tonight against Lake Howell.

"I think that if we all have the right mind-set and we step up every game at the beginning of the game - like we did (against Bloomingdale), we came out with our bats strong - if we do that every game we have a good chance to go far," Murray said.

Fast Facts:


Class 5A Region Semifinal

Who: Lake Howell (19-7) at Land O'Lakes (23-5), 7 p.m.

Cost: $6

Up next: Winner advances to region final to face the Auburndale/Newsome winner.