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)

Durant softball aims to defend state championship

Talent hasn't — and also in a strange way has — been a problem in the early stages of the Durant softball team's state title defense.

The Cougars are loaded with many of the same characters from last spring's Class 8A titlists. So much so that head coach Matt Carter has had trouble determining the batting order, who takes the field and who sits on the bench.

If you think it sounds like nothing to worry about, think again.

"It's tough," Carter said. "There are good players on the bench and you're hoping they don't get disheartened, or disgruntled," he said. "We probably won't have it all sorted out by spring break."

Several stars from last year's squad have their names virtually in permanent ink. Pitcher Paige Davis returns, as do Brooke Freeman, Shannon Bell, Alyssa Colding and Payton Lewis. All were hitting around or well over the .500 mark through the first four games.

Transfer T.J. Farrell has been added to the mix at shortstop.

Durant is 3-2 after being unable to hold a 5-0 lead in its District 8A-7 opener Tuesday at Plant. The Panthers scored four runs in the sixth to win 7-5. Bell hit a two-run homer for the Cougars, who visit Bloomingdale tonight.

Carter's team doesn't feel any special pressure to repeat as champions. Just getting through the very difficult 8A-7 is mission enough.

"They all know they have a huge target on their back," he said. "It all comes down to the end of the year and getting through your district. You can go undefeated and then lose that first district game."

Carter wasn't referring to Strawberry Crest, but he could have been. The Chargers have a tremendous lineup themselves, are off to a quick start and hope to get into the championship mix.

"We do talk about it," said Chargers head coach Mindy Miltner, as to expectations of possibly pulling off what Durant did last year. "But we're not gonna get ahead of ourselves."

She won't have to go any further than last year's finish to serve as a guide. Strawberry Crest was coming off a first playoff appearance in 2011, went through the 6A-District 11 schedule with a 9-1 mark and added a victory over Chamberlain, which went on to win the Class 7A state title.

All that was needed to get back into the postseason was a win against a Leto team the Chargers had already defeated twice, once by a 17-0 score.

And they lost 1-0.

This year, Chamberlain beat Strawberry Crest last week in a dramatic 9-8, eight-inning loss that saw the Chargers score three in the seventh to force extras.

"The fight we showed there, that was awesome," Miltner said. "We don't get shaken up."

The entire Charger lineup is a threat. Cacey Simmons proved that against Chamberlain: the No. 9 hitter hit a grand slam that put the Chargers ahead 5-1.

Freshman Kasey Locke has been added to the dangerous mix of standouts led by Megan Reed, Mia Fung and Savannah Bradley. Maddie Turner, Jordan Bowers and Trystan Reibsome are very good, and throw in sophomore Aly Masessa — it's a nightmare for the opposition.

Turner and Fung both homered in Tuesday's 12-0 win over Armwood. Freshman Scottie Todd struck out seven in three hitless innings. Outside of the Chamberlain loss Durant has won its other four games by a combined 57-0.

"They've got it all, offense, defense, pitching," raved Chamberlain head coach Bobby Diez.

And Miltner loves how vocal her group has become overall with leadership coming from all corners.

Durant and Strawberry Crest meet for the first time in a regular season matchup March 6 at Durant. The only time the schools faced off in softball was a spring tournament during the Chargers' inaugural year, a game won 5-4 by Strawberry Crest.

• • •

Plant City is under new head coach Amanda Sawyer and although the Raiders started off 0-3, the schedule had a lot to do with that. They gave Newsome a close game in the opener (5-4) before falling to Plant and Strawberry Crest.

The Raiders earned their first victory last week, 9-0 against Armwood. And on Tuesday they blasted Hillsborough in their District 7A-8 opener by a 21-0 score.

AN EXCITING OFFER: Strawberry Crest shortstop Megan Reed flashed a tremendous glove at Chamberlain and it's as if the coaching staff at the University of Florida said, we've seen enough. The next day Reed went to Gainesville with parents Rob and Michele and came away with a scholarship offer.

She accepted, verbally committing to her favorite school. Reed can't sign an official letter of intent until her senior season but it doesn't sound like she'll change her mind.

"I've always wanted to go there," Reed said. "There were other options if they didn't offer but that was definitely my first choice. I'm pretty excited."

Darek Sharp, Times correspondent

Durant softball aims to defend state championship 02/21/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 4:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport
  2. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  3. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  5. What they're saying about Dave Andreychuk making Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    "Dave helped me so much when I was just starting my career, a young kid that was looking to find his way as a hockey player, a person and a member of the Tampa Bay community. In addition to watching him compile such awe-inspiring statistics, I remember him as a big brother to me and many others, making sure all the …