tampabay.com

Land O'Lakes laid-back, loaded

Junior baseball team enters sectionals with tons of talent, cool-under-pressure attitudes.

By CHRIS WAGENHEIM
Published July 19, 2007


Physicality and easy-going personalities have propelled the Land O'Lakes junior baseball team into the sectional tournament this weekend in Lake Wales.

"I really don't know what to expect down the road, but they have been great," coach Harry Olsen said. "The coaching staff is having a blast with it; we are just sitting back and relaxing and letting them play. They are working hard and they are doing it."

Land O'Lakes mowed through district competition, going only five innings in three of four matchups. Tall and strong, according to Olsen, the team beat Dade City 16-0, Temple Terrace 12-2, Lutz 14-4 and New Tampa 2-1.

"On paper, these boys are big boys," Olsen said. "You write them down on a sheet of paper and you are thinking, 'Boy, what a team.' My biggest concern was are they as good on the field as they are on paper? And, yeah, they are, they are pretty good."

Olsen said his players have been crushing the ball.

"When they get to the plate, they are pretty intimidating and they can hit curve balls, fast balls, splitters; throw something, they will hit it," Olsen said. "They don't leave much in the tank; they let it go. We have been very fortunate so far."

As for the lopsided scores, Olsen is not worried about the success going to players' heads.

"They really haven't paid too much attention to any of it," Olsen said. "They are just a special group of kids; there is no individual kid, no one jumping around saying we are going to win it all or we are going to beat people up."

"They are so laid-back, so loose and they goof around a little bit, but when it's show time and it's time to go, they go. It is probably the most enjoyable coaching experience I have ever had, because there is no stress level. Nothing from the parents or the kids, everyone is just getting along."

Land O'Lakes plays Pinecrest Friday at 7 p.m. in Lake Wales. If it loses it plays again Saturday. If it wins, it waits until Sunday to play.