Original article by Bob Putnam, Tampa Bay Times
It is softball’s timeless truism. Dominant pitching wins. After all, an honest-to-goodness ace can make even a small lead seem insurmountable. Academy at the Lakes’ Lexi Kilfoyl and Land O’ Lakes’ Callie Turner are the best in the area. The seniors, who are close friends, were selected last month to the 2019 USA Softball Junior Women’s National Training Team. They also led their teams to state championship game appearances last season. Their return on the mound is a big reason the Wildcats and Gators hold the top spots in our first power rankings of the season.
1. Academy at the Lakes (1-0)
Up next: Tuesday at Hernando Christian
Outlook: The Wildcats, the defending Class 2A state champions, can beat anyone regardless of classification. That has a lot to do with pitching. Alabama signee Lexi Kilfoyl, who was the Florida Dairy Farmers and Gatorade state player of the year last season, returns for her senior season. She got off to a stellar start in the opener, throwing a complete-game no-hitter to beat defending Class 3A champion Admiral Farragut 3-0. Kilfoyl struck out 15 of the 23 batters she faced. On offense, she had two hits, including a home run. But it is not just about Kilfoyl. Academy at the Lakes returns every starter, including three infielders who have already committed to colleges — Brooke Blankenship (FSU), Devyne Davis (USF) and Jessica Mott (Holy Cross). The schedule is light at the beginning of the season with the Wildcats playing just their second game against Hernando Christian on Tuesday.