Last year was a big season for Hillsborough County softball, with Chamberlain and Durant each capturing state titles. The Chiefs and Cougars again figure into the postseason mix, but teams like Strawberry Crest, Freedom and Bloomingdale could make some noise. The district winners and runners-up advance to next week's region quarterfinals.
All stats listed are as of press time.
8A-7 at Durant
Monday: No. 3 Plant vs. No. 6 Wharton, 4 p.m.; No. 4 Newsome vs. No. 5 Alonso, 7 p.m. Tuesday: No. 2 Bloomingdale vs. Wharton-Plant winner, 4 p.m.; No. 1 Durant vs. Newsome-Alonso winner, 7 p.m. Thursday: Final, 7 p.m.
The Skinny: This has been a hotly contested district with Plant, Durant and Bloomingdale all having beaten each other during the regular season. With the top two teams advancing to the postseason, Tuesday's expected Plant-Bloomingdale game will decide which team moves on to the final — and the playoffs.
Player to Watch: Durant senior pitcher Paige Davis won 14 games in the circle with a tidy 1.79 ERA.
7A-8 at East Bay
Monday: No. 4 Hillsborough vs. No. 5 Brandon, 5 p.m.; No. 3 East Bay vs. No. 6 Tampa Bay Tech, 7 p.m. Tuesday: No. 1 Plant City vs. Hillsborough-Brandon winner, 5 p.m.; No. 2 Riverview vs. East Bay-TBT winner, 7 p.m. Thursday: Final, 7 p.m.
The Skinny: Plant City got through the district schedule unscathed (10-0) and looks strong heading down the stretch. Riverview and East Bay don't have some of the powerhouse teams they have had in the past, but both have veteran coaches and should scrap for the other postseason spot.
Player to Watch: USF signee Kristen Wyckoff hit just .292 on the season for Plant City, but she connected on three HRs and stole 17 bags.
7A-9 at Freedom
Tuesday: No. 4 Gaither vs. No. 5 Wiregrass Ranch, 7 p.m. Wednesday: No. 1 Chamberlain vs. Gaither-Wiregrass Ranch winner, 4:30 p.m.; No. 2 Freedom vs. No. 3 Steinbrenner, 7 p.m. Thursday: Final, 7 p.m.
The Skinny: This team is, for all intents and purposes, a two-horse race. Freedom and Chamberlain both finished the district slate 7-1, each beating the other by one run for the lone loss. Should be a great district final if all shakes out as expected.
Player to Watch: Lindsey Hagberg, a key cog in the Chiefs' state title run in 2012, leads Chamberlain in batting average (.452) and doubles (13). Hagberg will play at Harvard next season.
6A-11 at Sickles
Monday: No. 4 Leto vs. No. 5 Armwood, 5 p.m.; No. 3 Sickles vs. No. 6 King, 7 p.m. Tuesday: No. 2 Jefferson vs. Sickles/King winner, 5 p.m.; No. 1 Strawberry Crest vs. Leto/Armwood winner, 7 p.m. Thursday: Final, 7.
The Skinny: Strawberry Crest cruised through this district undefeated, giving up just one run in the process. Sickles and Jefferson figure to battle it out for a spot in the final against the Chargers.
Player to Watch: Strawberry Crest's Mia Fung can do it all. The junior catcher, who committed to USF, hit .542 with six HRs and eight triples, to go along with 11 stolen bases.
5A-11 at Lennard
Monday: No. 4 Spoto vs. No. 5 Middleton, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday: No. 2 Robinson vs. No. 3 Blake, 6 p.m.; No. 1 Lennard vs. Spoto-Middleton winner. Thursday: Final, 7:30 p.m.
The Skinny: Blake, Robinson and Lennard all finished with a 6-2 district mark, but with Lennard earning the top seed, the anticipated Knights-Yellow Jackets on Tuesday will be the game to watch.
Player to Watch: Robinson senior Alexis Jackson has been a force in the middle of lineup, hitting .492 with five homers and 34 RBIs.
4A-9 at Academy of the Holy Names
Tuesday: No. 4 Sarasota Booker vs. No. 1 Tampa Catholic, 5; No. 3 Berkeley Prep vs. No. 2 Holy Names, 7 p.m. Thursday: Final, 7 p.m.
The Skinny: This four-team district means a semifinal win guarantees a slot in finals and the postseason. Expect Tampa Catholic and Academy of the Holy Names to be those teams.
Player to Watch: Academy sophomore Julia Schifino has caused havoc at the plate (.474) and on the basepaths (13 steals).
3A-8 at Seffner Christian
Monday: No. 4 Tampa Prep vs. No. 5 Brooks DeBartolo, 4:30. Tuesday: No. 1 Carrollwood Day vs. Tampa Prep-Brooks Debartolo winner, 2:30; No. 2 Seff-ner Christian vs. No. 3 Bishop McLaughlin, 5. Thursday: Final, 5 p.m.
The Skinny: Carrollwood Day School and Seffner Christian are the prohibitive favorites, and CDS beat the Crusaders twice during the regular season. No other team should contend in this top-heavy district.
Player to Watch: Eighth-grader Cheyenne White leads the Crusaders in hitting, batting at a .567 clip to go along with team highs in doubles (10) and RBIs (25).
2A-9 at Canterbury
Tuesday: No. 2 Cambridge vs. No. 3 Lakeside Christian, 5 p.m.; No. 1 Canterbury vs. No. 4 Bayshore Christian, 7 p.m. Thursday: Final, 6 p.m.
The Skinny: This is another four-team district with the expected final to feature Canterbury, undefeated during the district schedule, and Cambridge Christian.
Player to Watch: Cambridge Christian's Alea White hit a sparkling .667 on the season and connected on the team's lone home run.
Brandon Wright can be reached at [email protected]