Baseball players aren’t the only North Suncoast athletes getting in on tournament fun this week.
Hernando is hosting the Leopard Softball Slam at Tom Varn Park on Friday and Saturday. The 16-team tournament boasts some of the top Hernando and Pasco teams, as well as out-of-area opponents.
Locally, keep an eye on River Ridge (13-1), which is coming off a championship run in Palm Harbor University’s Lady ’Canes Invitational. In four games — including a 12-1 win over Countryside in the final — the Royal Knights outscored opponents 44-1.
A pair of unbeatens, Mitchell and Nature Coast, also are in the mix. The Mustangs (13-0) have allowed just seven total runs this season and have five players with double-digit RBIs. Jordan Fowler (6-0) and Madison Stanilou (7-0) are the dynamic duo on the mound, with a combined ERA of 0.39 and 105 strikeouts.
The Sharks (12-0) are hitting .350 as a team, led by sophomore Chyloe Gonzalez’s 15 RBIs and .486 batting average. They’ll have a tough first-day matchup in Fivay (8-3), the only team to beat River Ridge this season. The Falcons’ go-to player is senior Jillion McElderry, who boasts a team-high .529 batting average and 10 stolen bases. She’s also their ace — 119 strikeouts in 61 innings.
And don’t count out host Hernando (11-1), whose only loss this season was 5-4 to Nature Coast.
Friday: Hernando vs. Mount Dora Bible, 9; Lecanto vs. First Academy, 9:30; Mitchell vs. Citrus, 10; Nature Coast vs. Fivay, 11; Belleview vs. Central, 11:30; River Ridge vs. The Villages, noon; American Heritage vs. Pasco, 1; Winter Springs vs. South Sumter, 5; loser’s bracket games, 3:30, 4, 6 and 8; quarterfinals, 3, 5:30, 7 and 7:30
Saturday: Games start at 9 a.m.; semifinals, 11 and 11:30; final, 7:30