Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Strawberry Crest softball team goes from hunter to hunted

DOVER

Strawberry Crest wasted little time jumping into the county's always-strong softball mix last season. After going 13-10 in their inaugural season in 2010, the Chargers posted a 22-3 record en route to the school's first district title and region quarterfinal appearance last year. This year, the hunters have turned into the hunted.

"We came into this season knowing there was a target on our backs," coach Mindy Miltner said. "We weren't going to be looked at as the underdogs anymore."

For all the firsts last year's team achieved, Miltner knew 2012 was a different team.

"They understood what we were losing," she said. "But they have come out and worked hard."

Strawberry Crest lost six seniors from last year's team and has none on the roster this season. To boot, the Chargers have just four juniors this season .

"We are very young," Miltner said.

USF-commit Mia Fung, centerfielder Cacey Simmons and first baseman Savannah Bradley are the lone returning starting position players. Despite the turnover, the Chargers are 10-5 (as of press time), with three of those losses coming at the ultra-tough Bartow Tournament during spring break.

"That tournament was really beneficial for us," Miltner said. "We needed to see good competition and we saw some great pitching. The girls played really well."

Two of those losses came against state-ranked teams. Eau Gallie is ranked No. 2 in 6A while Bartow is No. 6 in 7A.

"A loss is always a loss but as a team we knew how good the teams we were facing," pitcher Brianna Alonso said. "There were a whole bunch of top-notch teams there and we stayed with them."

Another new facet of the Chargers team this year is their pitching staff. Alonso, who went 20-2 last year with a 1.41 ERA in 104 innings, almost exclusively handled things inside the circle. But with Jordan Bowers fully healed following knee surgery before last season and Bradley, Miltner has an unusual arsenal of three quality pitchers.

"It's an advantage to us because the other teams usually get different looks throughout the game," Miltner said. "It depends on a lot of things who starts and who will come in. They are all ready at any time."

Typically, most teams feature one pitcher who eats up nearly all the innings, but all three have thrown at least 23 this year. And it's not uncommon for all three to throw in one game.

"It's a completely different game plan than the last two years and that took some time to adjust to," Alonso said. "But I think it will benefit all three of us in the long run in that we're all getting rest and we'll be ready down the road."

The next few weeks will be important for the young Chargers as they jockey for district seeding with games against Jefferson on Tuesday and Sickles on April 3, their two toughest district opponents. And even though a lot has changed since last season, Alonso thinks adding a second district title trophy to the case is well within reach.

"I think we will win out district for sure," Alonso said. "The way we're going, with the unity we have, we can do it."

Brandon Wright can be reached at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

Strawberry Crest softball team goes from hunter to hunted 03/24/12 [Last modified: Saturday, March 24, 2012 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning to retire Vinny Lecavalier's No. 4 in February

    Blogs

    When Marty St. Louis became the first Lightning player to have his jersey retired back in January, it was hard not to think that former captain Vinny Lecavalier would be the next one.

    Vinny Lecavalier takes the ice before a 2010 game against the Florida Panthers.
  2. Rick and Tom podcast: Worst-Case (Keenum) scenario

    Bucs

    Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the Bucs' 34-17 loss to the Vikings on Sunday in Minneapolis in their latest podcast.

    Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum (7) scrambles away from Bucs defensive end William Gholston (92) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. J.T. Brown of Lightning respects NFL players' protests

    Blogs

    There was something in the air in the NFL on Sunday. President Trump’s comments and tweets on NFL player protests achieved the effect of creating more of them. Lightning winger J.T. Brown was asked about it as he stood in a hall at Amalie Arena, a few hours before the Lightning played the Florida Panthers in …

    J.T. Brown, one of about 30 African-American players in the National Hockey League, would not rule out that he might protest.
  4. Cannon Fodder podcast: Bucs-Vikings review

    Bucs

    Greg Auman looks back on Sunday's 34-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the latest edition of our Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Quarterback Jameis Winston is sacked during the first half of the Bucs' 34-17 loss to the Vikings. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  5. Who took a knee? How each NFL team responded to Donald Trump's tweets about anthem protests

    Bucs

    NFL players, coaches and owners across the league reacted in various ways on Sunday to remarks from President Donald Trump speaking about NFL players who have protested during the national anthem.

    Members of the Oakland Raiders kneel during the playing of the National Anthem before an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017. [Alex Brandon | Associated Press]