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After a redundant district tournament, the Land O'Lakes senior baseball team is ready to compete against some fresh faces. The team moves on to sectional play this weekend in Lake Wales.
Things got a bit confusing in the three-team round-robin District 25 tournament to decide who moved on to sectionals. Land O'Lakes won its first game against Dade City and second against North Seminole 12-2.
But North Seminole came back to beat Land O'Lakes 11-5, forcing a third showdown between the teams.
"We can be a very competitive team," coach Scott Hilgenberg said. "I felt confident that we could get through districts if we had our head on our shoulders and two of our three games we had our head on our shoulders and one game we came out flat. If you come out flat in baseball anybody can beat you."
Hilgenberg said his team's best quality has been the ability to come through in pivotal situations. In the last game against North Seminole, which Land O'Lakes won 6-2, it was looking at two outs, bases loaded and a 3-0 count in a tie game. The pitching came through, however, with three strikes to get out of the jam.
"Two of our three games we went nine and 10 innings," Hilgenberg said. "When it comes time for us to play some pressure ball, we are there to play some pressure ball."
Hilgenberg is confident in his fielding and pitching, and said his hitting can tip the scales in any matchup.
"The kids like pressure, but I don't like pressure. I think that we could have done a lot better without it," Hilgenberg said. "If we hit the ball, we can beat anybody."
Land O'Lakes' first game is against Belmont Heights on Friday at 7 p.m. A win and it plays Sunday; a loss and it plays Saturday.
"We have been down a few innings and then we pluck away, pluck away and see what we can do," Hilgenberg said.