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All about the accessories

The right hair ribbon, and okay, almost a lifetime of lessons, give Gator her swing.

By CHRIS WAGENHEIM
Published May 1, 2007


LAND O'LAKES - According to Land O'Lakes' Alexis Aubuchon, surviving, and eventually coming out of, a hitting slump may require something as drastic as changing the color of your ritualistic hair tie.

"My superstition has been my pink ribbon; pink is my favorite color and I have to have my pink ribbon in, " Aubuchon said. "But when I was going through my slump, Coach was like, 'Hey why don't you leave it out or why don't you try a different ribbon.' I was really apprehensive about that, but I tried it and ever since then it has been whatever ribbon I feel like, but I have to have a ribbon, I have to."

Though Aubuchon had a .446 batting average during the regular season, which included six triples and three home runs, she is not living up to her own batting expectations.

"I have been in a slump all season, if you compare it to the way I hit last year and the year before, " Aubuchon said.

And if you go ahead and consider her season stats a slump, then she emerged from those dark depths Friday against Lake Howell. Aubuchon was 2-for-4 with a walk and two homers, the latter a grand slam. The timing of her renewed vigor couldn't be better; the Gators meet Newsome today in the region final.

"I feel ecstatic (about the timing), but at the same time disappointed that I didn't come out with a bang at the beginning of the season, " Aubuchon said.

Coach Jamie Martin is just focused on the present.

"I love that, not just her, but the whole team is peaking right now, " Martin said. "One through nine, we are hitting the ball."

Standing at an average height, Aubuchon hits the ball with the force of girls twice her size. Both of her home runs Friday were over the centerfield wall.

"I would like to say that it comes naturally, but I have been playing since I was 5, " Aubuchon said. "I play year round, and on my travel ball team we are expected to practice ourselves. I go with another girl during the summer to the batting cages every other day. Since I was 9, I have been taking lessons."

And the practice pays off.

"She has great hand-eye coordination, " Martin said. "She is very disciplined up at the plate. Not swinging, not chasing bad balls. Usually when she is not hitting the ball well, it has nothing to do with her mechanics, it's in her head."

UP NEXT

Class 5A region final

Land O'Lakes (24-5) at Newsome (22-5)

Time: 7 p.m. Cost: $6 Winner advances to state semifinal in Plant City to face the Dwyer/West Boca Raton winner.