More than any other sport, softball relies on one player. The Ace. You can't win without her. Pitchers control the game, the fate of their teams and the bats of their opponents. That's why Tuesday night, seven bay area teams have a chance to move on to the state semifinals.
Alyssa Bache, junior
Team: East Lake
What makes her good: Bache, who is 21-2, is overpowering and throws a wicked curveball. Her forearm has been troublesome of late, keeping her out of the region quarterfinals. But she shut out Seminole in the district final and returned in the region semifinals to outduel Pinellas Park star Sara Nevins 1-0.
Virtuoso performance: On March 12, Bache threw 11 perfect innings against Pinellas Park … but needed to go six more until her team could get her the win. In 17 innings, Bache struck out 37 batters.
Chances: Excellent. East Lake had a strong veteran lineup that just needed an ace.
Chelsea Oglevie, senior
What makes her good: Unlike Alyssa Bache and Kayla Cox, Oglevie doesn't overpower batters. But she does outsmart them. She is tough, competitive, rarely misses her spots and is content to let her defense help her out. She throws a nasty screwball and will do so at any count.
Virtuoso performance: Oglevie threw the first perfect game of her prep career in the April 27 region quarterfinals against Venice and needed eight innings to do it. She had only one strikeout. That, perhaps better than any other game, sums up the senior.
Chances Tuesday: Fair. She has to beat Bache, but East Lake has been a team that gets runners on then has trouble converting them into runs.
Krissy Longstreet, junior
What makes her good: Longstreet has state semifinal experience and is a multiple all-state pick as one of the leaders of Canterbury's rise. She isn't overpowering but has a solid defense behind her. She's also one of the top hitters around.
Chances: Decent. Longstreet's arm, and mostly her bat, always give Canterbury a chance.
Kayla Cox, senior
Team: East Bay
What makes her good: Cox, who is 15-1, isn't built like your typical pitcher. She's smaller but just as potent. This season, the North Carolina State signee already has struck out 241, and her overpowering stuff has yielded a microscopic 0.22 ERA. She showed her mettle in the region semifinals, working out of a bases-loaded jam.
Virtuoso performance: Cox struck out a season-high 20 against Durant in a 1-0 victory on March 19, at the time stretching her streak to 79 innings without allowing an earned run to start the season.
Chances Tuesday: Difficult. But if Cox can beat Bartow, with one of the strongest softball traditions in Florida history, it would be the biggest win of her career.
Cortney Radke, senior
What makes her good: We're not sure if anyone in the bay area has had a better season than Radke, who throws some heat but is better when she's mixing up her pitches. Her results have been staggering. She has a 0.17 ERA and is 17-2, and one of those losses was a no-hitter. She threw a no-hitter in the April 27 region quarterfinals against a good-hitting River Ridge team. She has given up just four hits in her past 54 innings.
Virtuoso performance: Pick any of her six no-hitters. Ours would be the last one because it was a playoff game and against a team very familiar with her. A lot of good that did for the opposition.
Chances Tuesday: Difficult. Defending state champ Dunnellon is waiting, and all it has done is win 61 of its past 63 games.
Courtney Riddle, 8th grade
Team: Hernando Christian
What makes her good: She can pitch and has just enough zip on her hard stuff. Oh, and Riddle is only an eighth-grader. She already has something none of the other aces have — a state semifinal appearance, having started last year's Class A game the Lions won 9-0. (They lost to Jacksonville Eagle's View in the final.) This season, she is 16-4.
Virtuoso performance: How about this postseason? Three wins pitching and 8-for-11 at the plate with three RBIs.
Chances Tuesday: Very good. Calvary Christian has seven losses and was the No. 4 seed in its district tournament. The Lions and Riddle are tested and ready.
Jessica Anderson, freshman
Team: Northside Christian
What makes her good: Anderson can dominate, but mostly she doesn't have to as she is backed by one of the best-hitting teams around. She almost no-hit Canterbury, one of the better small-school programs around. And she has allowed only six runs in the past four games. Plenty for a team that has scored 36.
Chances: Good. The Mustangs have lost only twice all season and are clicking. Anderson is good enough to hold down Lakeland Christian.