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A tour of the tournaments

On the mound, Admiral Farragut’s Corynn Miner has struck out 163 batters. At the plate, she is hitting .711.

LARA CERRI | Times

On the mound, Admiral Farragut’s Corynn Miner has struck out 163 batters. At the plate, she is hitting .711.

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

In fact, they're the only two Pinellas schools to have never made the playoffs in that sport.

Next week, the long waits could end. The Blue Jackets and Spartans have the No. 1 seeds in their district tournaments.

Farragut (13-2, 6-0), which started its program five years ago, is the top team in 3A-10. The program was started by Linda Derk, who has coached at the college and pro level, including the Tampa Bay Firestix (1998-2001). The Blue Jackets' best player is Corynn Miner, who has 163 strikeouts while hitting .711.

Lakewood (12-10, 8-1), meanwhile, is the top team in 5A-10 thanks to a 10-9 win over Bradenton Bayshore, in which it scored seven runs in the bottom of the seventh.

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

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

Best districts

The 5A-8 and 7A-9 tournaments are, perhaps, the deepest in the bay area with any of the top four teams capable of advancing to regions.

In 5A-8, five of the eight teams have winning records. Top-seeded Dunedin has won six straight. 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 offense if they meet the Royal Knights in the final after being shut out in both losses.

Four teams have winning records in 7A-9. 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 by winning their last four district games. The 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 nine, 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 over 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. Canterbury is the defending state champion and has won its four district games by a combined 53-0, including a 1-0 forfeit by Hernando Christian.

The top of the Crusaders' lineup is strong with three players — Taylor Bump, Kama Woodall and Hailey Hopkins — with at least four home runs.

Upset alert

Palm Harbor University is in danger of missing the playoffs for just the second time in 16 seasons. The No. 2 seed in 8A-8 has losses to two of the three district opponents. Worse, PHU has lost three straight, including 5-0 to Dixie Hollins.

Part of the problem is the once-potent offense, which averaged 10 runs in the first half of the season, has scored just four runs over 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).

.Fast facts

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 *

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 *

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 with game time to be determined

A tour of the tournaments 04/11/14 [Last modified: Friday, April 11, 2014 11:54pm]
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