HomeTeam Hot Shots
A spotlight on the Times’ bay area players of the week.
Female Hot Shot: Caroline Whiteside, Sr., Freedom
Skinny: Whiteside, whose real first name is Sunday, typically batted second this season to move leadoff hitter Maddy Hall over. But with two out and the bases juiced in the top of the seventh in a Class 7A region final at Sarasota, the Patriots’ resident bunter evolved into basher. Her grand slam — the first over-the-fence homer of Whiteside’s life — propelled Freedom to a 5-1 victory and clinched the program’s first state tournament berth. “That was my first home run that I got to just jog around the bases and soak up every single moment,” said Whiteside, the youngest of nine siblings. “I was so shocked, I didn’t know what was happening. It was mind-blowing, it was breathtaking.”
Male Hot Shot: Brett Morales, Sr., King
Skinny: With a berth to state at stake, the Lions turned to Morales in their Class 6A region final against Mitchell on Friday. The UF-bound ace turned in a historic performance for a historic game. In one of the season’s most dominant efforts, Morales notched a school-record 17 strikeouts to lead the Lions to a 4-1 victory. The win sent King back to the final four for the third time and second time in four years. “Get on my back, and I’m gonna take you to Fort Myers,’” Lions coach Jim Macaluso said of Morales’ demeanor after the game. “And he did it.” The 6-foot-2 senior threw 70 of his 99 pitches for strikes, allowing three hits and only one base runner over the final three innings. It was simply an extension of what he’s been doing all season: Morales entered the game with a 10-1 record, 0.39 ERA and 100 strikeouts.