Michael Reagan, Clearwater Central Catholic
Reagan grips the ball inside his glove. He stares at the catcher. In one motion, he whips his left arm around. The ball whistles out of his hand.
The batter takes a mighty swing. But it is not enough. The ball either pops into the catcher's mitt for a strike or to a fielder for an out.
This routine has become commonplace for the Clearwater Central Catholic ace.
Two weeks ago, Reagan threw a no-hitter in a 5-1 win over Countryside. The runner who scored reached on a walk.
Last week, Reagan was even more dominant. He threw another no-hitter, this time striking out 16 batters in a 6-0 win over Tampa Prep.
"I had a no-hitter before in travel ball," Reagan said. "To have two so close together, that's never happened before."
It is quite the turnaround for Reagan, who was 0-4 as a starter (according MaxPreps).
Reagan was not giving up a ton of hits — or runs — but every pitch, every mechanical detail mattered.
This offseason, the Barry signee worked on developing a curveball that he has added to his arsenal.
"It's helped because it's just something else to use to keep hitters off balance," Reagan said. "So far everything is working."
Taylor Brown, Sickles
One of Brown's goals this season was to hit a home run.
The senior softball catcher got that — and more.
Last week, Brown saw a pitch and smacked it, sending the ball toward the fence.
Still, she did not know what she had done the instant it exploded off her bat.
Brown thought she might have hit a double or a triple. So she started sprinting.
The ball kept sailing until it went over the fence.
"I didn't really know it until I rounded first," Brown said. "Then I slowed down and did the jog around the bases."
It was not just a home run.
It was a grand slam.
"I can't even remember the last time I hit a homer, especially a grand slam," she said.
The blast was part of a memorable week. Brown went a combined 5-for-6 with six RBIs in wins over Plant (17-0) and Armwood (15-1).
"I'd have to say it was the best week I've had," she said.
The Piedmont signee spent the bulk of the offseason working on her offensive game. For at least five hours a week, she would hit 40 to 50 softballs.
"I worked mostly on my hands and driving the ball through," Brown said. "It's working. I'm playing well."