District softball showdowns: 'Canes, 'Rays knock off Broncos, Knights; Indians stay perfect
MIDDLEBURG - The Gainesville High Hurricanes softball team blew into Middleburg to face off against the Broncos in their district 3-7A opener play with the 'Canes already one-up in conference versus Columbia with a 1-0 win Tuesday night.
Over at Oakleaf High School, the Lady Stingrays of Atlantic Coast came to town looking to measure up in what has become the district 4-8A championship game the past three years.
A little further south, the unbeaten Keystone Heights Lady Indians (7-0) were tasking their wins against district 5-5A foe Santa Fe. Keystone Heights had already accrued five district wins prior to Santa Fe in the early part of the season with both teams unbeaten in district play on that fateful Friday (March 8).
On the mound for Gainesville against Middleburg would be Junior 2019 MaxPreps preseason All-Star Alissa Humphrey. The Broncos proved up for the challenge through the third inning, holding Gainesville 1-0.
In the top of the fourth, the Broncos loaded the bases with only one out. The 'Canes defense thwarted the Middleburg offense, leaving the inning blank.
ìWe had probably the best inning we had just starting off," said first year Middleburg Bronco Head Coach Ashley Houston, a Trinity Christian and Jacksonville University all star player. "We had a really tough time, obviously against one of the best pitchers in the state, putting the ball in play and trying to make something happen.î
Gainesville piled on two more unanswered runs on their way to their second conference win in three days, 3-0.
ìWe were just over-swinging in big situations," said Houston. "We just have to simplify the game in those situations and weíll be a little more successful.î
Down 1-0, the Broncos got on base in the fourth with a first base error getting Haleigh Wright to first with no outs. Olivia Wilbur singled on a misplayed bunt that had two Broncos on base, with the tying run in scoring position. After a pop up first out, Carley Romanesk went full count, then walked to load the bases. Then the cold bats showed back up as the next two Broncos went down swinging, leaving the precious runners abandoned, still 1-0.
ìI was a little worried about the bats because the last game, our bats were just on fire," said Houston. "So I knew coming in tonight, hits and runs were going to be few and far between going against Humphrey, a really great pitcher. So, definitely they went cold for a while and next time we face her, weíll make the adjustments.î
As fast as the Broncos were on a natural high with bases loaded, the next at bat for the Canes piled on two more runs when, again, Humphrey grounded, was out, but allowed another run to score on the back side of the play. With two outs and Gainesville with a runner still at second, a fly ball to deep left field scored the final run as the Broncos couldnít get the ball back inside the diamond quick enough to stop the runner. Up 3-0, Gainesville would be stopped on the next play, but the damage was done.
For Oakleaf, the familiar faces of Atlantic Coast High on the field was nothing new, but the vigor of the Stingrays putting up six seventh inning runs to win a thriller 9-8 was something Oakleaf was not used to seeing.
Errors proved fateful to the Class 8A runnerups as four misplays kept Atlantic Coast in the game despite the Lady Knights controlling the bats with a 16 hits to eight advantage.
Baylee Goddard led the Oakleaf offensive thrust with three hits in four at bats including a run-scoring double in the first inning and a triple in the sixth that scored Goddard off a sacrifice bunt to put Oakleaf up 4-3.
In the third , Kaylee Lambrecht opened the inning with a triple with Goddard singling her in for a run scoring the game 4-3 Atlantic Coast.
Oakleaf kept piling on the runs in the sixth inning with three runs off a double from Serrano and singles from Katie Kistler, Jada McFarland and Lambrecht as as Oakleaf looked to finish off the Stingrays with firepower.
Down 7-3 in their last shot to close the gap and with Mady Davis still on the mound for Oakleaf, Atlantic Coast got two singles and two batters hit by Davis to close the game to 7-6 with a single tying the game and a third batter hit by Davis putting the Stingrays up 8-7.
Reliever Cambria Arturo came in to try and squelch the Stingray momentum, but a passed ball scored the ninth Stingray run to set up what would normally be an Oakleaf last-inning comeback.
With that, Jayce Brookshire punched up a double to center field with Aspen Windesheim singling to score the game 9-8 and Oakleaf looking to cash in.
Two strikeouts and a grounder ended the game.
Over in Santa Fe, the unbeaten Lady Indians, with a scoring ratio of 81-5, had their lowest scoring game of the season thus far with a 3-1 win over Santa Fe. The Lady Indians have put up scores of 15-1, 15-0, 17-1 and 16-1 over district foes to storm to the top of the district picture.
The Lady Indians, Final Four finishers under coach Jessica Marquart last year with a district title win over Santa Fe and also a region semifinal win, have massive batting averages from freshman Emma Rogel with a .625 average on 19 hits in 24 at bats with eighth-grader Kiley Channell at .600 on 20 hits in 26 at bats. Eighth grader Kinley Carlton has blasted at .458 with a team-leading 16 runs batted in with Channell at 12 RBIs.
On the mound, Dealynn Eatmon has an amazing 53 strikeouts in 32 innings pitched; nearly two per inning, with just 12 hits against and three runs.
"Daelynn Eatmon, a 10th grader, is pitching really well striking people out yes but our defense has also been stellar," said Marquart. "We have had 143 total defense chances with only two errors. Daelynn has 53K's in 31 innings with an ERA of .219."
Note: Oakleaf High will host their second Tournament of Champions with the Lady Knights, 8A runnerups, joined by Keystone Heights (Final Four 5A), Clay (Final Four 6A), West Nassau (5A runnerups), Trinity Christian (4A runnerups), West Orange (9A runnerups), Lake Wales (6A runnerups) and Gainesville (7A region finalist) all playing Thurs.-Sat., March 21-23.
Clay softball loses two
By Randy Lefko
ORLANDO - In tournament play at Montverde Academy in Clermont, the Clay high Blue Devil softball team lost two matches against top-ranked teams; 8A region semifinalist East Lake High 5-1 and 6-5 against 5A-Bishop Moore.
Against East Lake, Clay pitcher Morgan Crutcher was stellar as the Blue Devils were tied at 1-1 after five innings with Sydney Davis's single scoring off an error on a Morgan Silvis grounder.
In the next inning, two field errors put East Lake up 2-1 with a run scoring single upping the deficit to 4-1.
Another error in the sixth put a runner in play that a single scored the final run, 5-1.
Against Bishop Moore, Clay got behind by as much as 6-1 with Bishop Moore scoring four fourth inning runs two singles and a double off Crutcher.
The Blue Devils offense came alive in the sixth and seventh innings for five runs. In the sixth, singles from Silvis, Dakota Worley, Delaney Anfinson and Crutcher plus a sacrifice bunt from Sydney Lewis put two runs on the board for Clay.
In the seventh, after Crutcher disposed of the Bishop Moore bats with two strikeouts and a grounder, an error to an Ali Sarman grounder followed by a walk to Silvis got greeted with a double from Worley to push in one run. Lewis singled in two runs off a grounder to left field before Anfinson hit a fly ball to end the game.
Clay, on top of district 4-6A with Ridgeview number two, gets some district action this week with Menendez on Tues., March 12 and an away game to Ponte Vedra on Thur., March 14. The Blue Devils travel to Orange Park Fri., March 15.