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Pinellas district softball preview with schedules

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Fri. April 11, 2014 | Bob Putnam | Email

Pinellas district softball preview with schedules

Admiral Farragut and Lakewood routinely make the playoffs in just about every sport except one — softball.

In fact, they’re the only two schools in Pinellas County that have never made the postseason in that sport.

Next week, the long wait could be over. The Blue Jackets and Spartans both have No. 1 seeds in their respective districts.
Admiral Farragut (13-2, 6-0), which started a softball program five years ago, is the top team in Class 3A-10 after going undefeated against its district counterparts.

The program was started by Linda Derk, who has coached at the college and professional levels, including with the Tampa Bay Firestix (1998-2001). The Blue Jackets’ best player is Corynn Miner, a pitcher who has recorded 163 strikeouts and also has a .711 batting average.

The Spartans (12-10, 8-1), meanwhile, are the top-ranked team in 5A-10 thanks to a 10-9 win over Bradenton Bayshore. In that game, Lakewood rallied with seven runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Mariah Watts (8-3), a Wisconsin recruit, came back from early-season injuries and has not allowed an earned run this season.

Lakewood has been among the favorites to reach the postseason the past two years but fell short after unexpected losses in the semifinals. If the Spartans reach the finals, they likely will get a rematch with Bayshore, the No. 2 seed.

Best districts
The 5A-8 and 7A-9 tournaments are perhaps the deepest in the area with the any of the top four teams in each one capable of making the playoffs.

In 5A-8, five of the eight teams have winning records. Top-seeded Dunedin has been on a roll with six straight wins. Aubrey Ehlers has been stellar on the mound, and the Falcons have gotten timely hits from Tiona Hill, Abbie Sexton and Olivia Silver, among others.

Dunedin has two losses to River Ridge, though one came in a tournament that did not count toward the district standings. Still, the Falcons have to find a way to generate some offense if they meet the Royal Knights in the final after being shut out in the previous two meetings.

In 7A-9, four teams also have winning records. The top three — Countryside, Northeast and East Lake — have beaten each other at least once during the regular season.

The Cougars earned the top seed after winning their past four against district opponents. The late-season turnaround can be attributed in large part to a resurgent offense that has averaged 10 runs in six games.

The Vikings, the No. 2 seed, are in position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Northeast has won eight of their past nine games, the only loss coming on a walkoff homer against 2A powerhouse Canterbury. Though the Vikings can struggle at times on offense, they can stay in games thanks to Riley Randolph, a power pitcher who has committed to Florida Gulf Coast.

The Eagles (the No. 3 seed) and Seminole (No. 4) have struggled the past two weeks but each is capable of an upset. And don’t forget about Pinellas Park, the No. 5 seed that beat Northeast earlier this season.

District dominance
The 2A-8 tournament might be the most anticlimactic one in the area. It is Canterbury and everybody else. The Crusaders are the defending state champions and have won eight straight titles. Canterbury has been so dominant, it won all four games against district opponents by a combined score of 53-0, which included a 1-0 forfeit victory against Hernando Christian.

The top of the Crusaders’ lineup is strong with three players — Taylor Bump, Kama Woodall and Hailey Hopkins — who have hit at least four home runs this season.

Upset alert
Palm Harbor University is in danger of missing the playoffs for just the second time in 16 seasons. The Hurricanes, the No. 2 seed in 8A-8, have losses to two of the three district opponents. What’s worse is PHU has lost three straight, including a 5-0 loss to Dixie Hollins.

Part of the problem is that the Hurricanes’ once potent offense, which averaged 10 runs the first half of the season, has scored just four runs in the past three games.

PHU will have to rely on Logyn Lilley, who leads all public school players in batting average (.620), RBIs (37) and home runs (five).

Bob Putnam can be reached at putnam@tampabay.com or on Twitter @BobbyHomeTeam.

District schedules
8A-8, at various sites

Tuesday: No. 3 Bradenton Manatee at No. 2 Palm Harbor University, 4; No. 4 St. Petersburg at No. 1 Sarasota Riverview, 7
Thursday: Final at TBD *

7A-9, at Pinellas Park
Monday: No. 3 East Lake vs. No. 6 Clearwater, 4; No. 4 Seminole vs. No. 5 Pinellas Park, 7
Wednesday: No. 2 Northeast vs. East Lake-Clearwater winner, 4; No. 1 Countryside vs. Seminole-Pinellas Park winner, 7
Thursday: Final, 7

6A-10, at Mitchell
Tuesday: No. 5 Largo at No. 4 Dixie Hollins, 4
Wednesday: No. 2 Springstead vs. No. 3 Osceola, 5; No. 1 Mitchell vs. Largo-Dixie Hollins winner, 7
Thursday: Final, 7

5A-10, at various sites
Tuesday: No. 5 Gibbs at No. 4 Boca Ciega, 4
Wednesday: Gibbs-Boca Ciega winner at No. 1 Lakewood, 4; No. 3 Bradenton Southeast at No. 2 Bradenton Bayshore, 7
Thursday: Final at TBD *

5A-8, at River Ridge
Monday: No. 2 Gulf vs. No. 7 Sunlake, 5; No. 1 Dunedin vs. No. 8 Anclote, 7
Tuesday: No. 5 Fivay vs. No. 4 Land O’Lakes, 5; No. 3 River Ridge vs. No. 6 Tarpon Springs, 7
Wednesday: Dunedin-Anclote winner vs. Fivay-Land O’Lakes winner, 5; River Ridge-Tarpon Springs winner vs. Gulf-Sunlake winner, 7
Thursday: Final, 7

3A-10, at Shorecrest
Monday: No. 3 Shorecrest vs. No. 2 St. Petersburg Catholic, 2; No. 4 Northside Christian vs. No. 1 Admiral Farragut, 4
Wednesday: Final, 4

3A-9, at Eddie C. Moore
Tuesday: No. 2 Clearwater Central Catholic vs. No. 3 Indian Rocks Christian, 7
Thursday: No. 1 Calvary Christian vs. CCC-IRC winner, 7

2A-8, at Canterbury
Monday: No. 4 Hernando Christian vs. No. 5 Keswick Christian, 6
Tuesday: No. 2 Bayshore Christian vs. No. 3 Lakeside Christian, 5:30; No. 1 Canterbury vs. Hernando Christian -Keswick Christian winner, 7
Thursday: Final, 6

* At higher remaining seed

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