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Wed. June 11, 2014 | Matt Baker | Email

Pitcher of the Year: Lace Smith, Jr., Bloomingdale

Why we picked her: Smith carried a team that didn’t even make the playoffs last year to the Class 8A state championship — the program’s first since 1993. She took a 0.58 ERA into the state semifinals, and she allowed only one earned run in Vero Beach. The right-hander finished the season with 279 strikeouts while walking only 26 batters in 174 innings. Her bat was solid, too — she was among the team’s leaders with a .343 average and three home runs. 

Proudest accomplishment: Smith dominated all season but had her best performance in the 8A region quarterfinal. On the road at Sarasota Riverview, she struck out 19 batters and threw a perfect game. “I didn’t know I pitched a perfect game until the end when my coach told me,” Smith said. “I was pretty excited.” She went a step farther, bashing a homer in the seventh that was the only run in a 1-0 victory.

Future plans: Smith has orally committed to play at the University of Buffalo. She has already visited the school and enjoyed the campus. She intends to study nursing.

Did you know? Smith enjoys listening to country music, like Luke Bryan. She’ll spend this summer playing travel ball for the Tampa Mustangs 18U gold team, with tournaments scheduled in Alabama, Colorado and Chicago. 

Player of the Year: SS Jessica Warren, Sr., Alonso

Why we picked her: Warren was one of Tampa Bay’s top sluggers and had one of the strongest defensive arms in the county. Her .605 batting average ranked among the top 25 in the state, and she bashed a team-best 10 home runs with 33 RBIs to edge Berkeley Prep’s Kristin Hoover for the award. “It’s almost as if she could see it before it actually happened,” Ravens coach Robin Kopp said. “It’s not only that she hit well. It’s the way she could see the game that was great.” 

Proudest accomplishment: Warren helped lead her team to a win in one of the craziest games of the year — a 7-6 win over Bloomingdale for the Class 8A, District 7 title in a 13-inning contest plagued by rain. “Our coach kept us up,” said Warren, who helped turn the game-ending double play for the victory. Alonso advanced to the Class 8A region semifinals. 

Future plans: Warren has signed to play at Florida State. She plans to study sports psychology and is considering pursuing a career as a therapist.

Did you know? Warren got hooked on the sport by playing baseball with her older brother, James. She began playing T-ball as a young child and continued playing baseball with the boys until she was about 11 years old, when she switched to softball. “It was fun,” Warren said. “It was different.” 

Coach of the year

Mandy Schuerman, Bloomingdale. The Bulls didn’t even make the playoffs last year but made history in Schuerman’s first season as head coach. Bloomingdale went from district runnerup to Class 8A state champion, giving the program its first state title since 1993 and finishing the season ranked No. 22 nationally by MaxPreps. The Bulls finished 27-3.

First team

P Kayla Maxwell, Sr., Alonso: Houston signee helped the Ravens win the 8A-7 district title with a 1.36 ERA and 82 strikeouts.

P Nicole Lopez, Sr., Jefferson: Carried the Dragons to the program’s first fast-pitch district championship with 164 strikeouts and a .410 batting average.

P Sammi Grat, So., Gaither: Her 0.72 ERA and 9-1 record - included a shutout win over Steinbrenner for the Class 7A, District 8 championship. 

P Noelle Dietrich, Jr., Plant City: 1.10 ERA helped the Raiders reach the 7A region semifinals.

C Mia Fung, Sr., Strawberry Crest: USF recruit finished with a .440 average and five home runs.

IF Emma Frost, Fr., Carrollwood Day: Led the Patriots to the Class 3A state semifinals with a .635 average and 30 extra-base hits.

IF Liz Diaz, Sr., Chamberlain: Vocal leader’s 38 RBIs and .428 average carried the Chiefs to the Class 6A state semifinals.

IF Elizabeth Jackson, Jr., Bloomingdale: Bulls’ top hitter (.486) for the 8A state champs.

IF Kristin Hoover, Sr., Berkeley Prep: Cal recruit ranked among the state’s leaders with a .612 average and 16 home runs.

OF Rachel Carlson, Sr., Freedom: Maine signee led the Patriots in hitting (.457) and steals (11).

OF Izzy Ordorica, Sr., Chamberlain: UCLA recruit was the top hitter (.442 average) for the state semifinalists.

OF Cacey Simmons, Sr., Strawberry Crest: Tops on the team with nine triples and 29 RBIs while batting .500.

DH Shannon Bell, Sr., Durant: Had the Cougars’ biggest hit — a walkoff home run in a Class 7A region quarterfinal win over Steinbrenner; finished with six homers and 45 RBIs.

UTIL Alea White, So., Cambridge Christian: Posted a 1.23 ERA with 245 strikeouts at pitcher and batted .629.

Second team

P Sammy Tyler, Sr., Strawberry Crest

P Sloan Hammons, Fr., Durant

P Olivia Dwyer, So., Chamberlain

P McKenzie Ward, Jr., Berkeley Prep

C Elizabeth Mason, So., Gaither

IF Hope Hernandez, Fr., Chamberlain

IF Erica Serafini, Jr., Steinbrenner

IF Brandea’ Rafferty, So., Robinson

IF Adri Jones, Jr., Leto

OF Megan Reed, Sr., Strawberry Crest

OF Justine Fernandez, So., Jefferson

OF Megan Wetzel, Jr., Alonso

DH Julia Schifino, Jr., Academy of the Holy Names

UTIL Megan Przeslawski, Sr., Plant

Honorable mention 

Academy of the Holy Names: Brittany Bramwell

Alonso: Elly Pillers

Berkeley Prep: Arielle Glass, Brie Nicker

Blake: Marissa Hernandez, Amanda Weathers

Bloomingdale: Darby Bernaldo, Taylor Engman, Samantha Selden

Brandon: Kristen Willig

Cambridge Christian: Megan Rygiel, Vivica Smith

Carrollwood Day: Savannah Bennett, Amanda Rose

Chamberlain: Jenna Brownell, Lauren Williams

Durant: Selena Bezares, Brooke Freeman, Morgan Slater, Kelli Tidwell

East Bay: Taylor Baker, Madison Culver, Amber Hess

Freedom: Maddy Hall, Grace Street

Gaither: Bethany Kursch, Alex Robbins

Hillsborough: Jamie Bevins

Jefferson: Kayla Fernandez, Natalia Rivera

Leto: Rebecca Harkins, Marcella Parrado

Middleton: Alexus Raymond, Gabriela Trejo

Newsome: Claire Feldman

Plant City: Kacie Booth, Emily Register, Rebecca Sorenson

Riverview: Kaitlyn McMillan, Peyton Moritz

Robinson: Amanda Crosby, Samantha Conlan, Caitelin Herrera, Haley Morrell 

Seffner Christian: Madison Cates, Celia Higgins, Rachel Seifert, 

Sickles: Giselle Anderson, Jasmine Carter

Steinbrenner: Kellee Ramsey

Strawberry Crest: Aly Masessa

Tampa Catholic: Kaylyn Carson, Cristina Clauberg, Emily Small

Tampa Prep: Kamryn Beach

Wharton: Makaleigh Dooley

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