Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ACD Overcomes Youth,inexperience

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

ACD Overcomes Youth,inexperience

Article excerpt

Pitcher Brittani Phillips fielded the ball cleanly and quickly snapped her throw toward the runner on third base. Several tosses later, the runner was tagged out and Wewahitchka, Arlington Country Day's opponent in last week's state quarterfinal game, was soon eliminated.

Why so surprising? Perhaps that Phillips is an eighth-grader on a first-year Apaches squad that will meet Central Florida Christian at 4:30 p.m. today in the state semifinals in Auburndale.

"They're as loose as they can get," said ACD coach Dave Nelson. "I've never had a team like this and I've been coaching many, many years, but never as together as this."

And Nelson should know.

He spent six years as the head coach at Mandarin, including a four-year span when he coached four-time Times-Union Player of the Year Kellie Wilkerson.

Yet what makes the Apaches' run so amazing is their youthfulness.

Their roster consists of one senior, three juniors, four sophomores, two-eighth graders and a sixth-grader.

"I told the girls, I don't care who you're playing in any class," Nelson said. "If we play our game and don't make mistakes, we'll beat any team."

Throughout the season, ACD (23-9) has done just that. The Apaches won the district 3-A crown and have enjoyed a remarkable postseason run, highlighted by a 2-1 triumph of the Gators in their last outing.

Making the win over Wewahitchka even more impressive was that when leading hitter Kaycee Weldon (.587) was shut down, her teammates picked up the slack.

Sixth-grader Becky Wilson and Chassidy LaFrentz -- the No. 8 and 9 batters -- drove in ACD's runs, and Phillips (12-6) held the powerful Gators squad -- which had won 25 consecutive games -- to one run.

Yet making ACD's game today against the second-ranked Eagles (24-1) more appealing is that the teams have met twice this season, with CFC notching 4-1 and 2-1 wins. …

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