Wednesday, April 25, 2018

HomeTeam 25: Softball rankings

1. Land O'Lakes (2-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Anclote; Wednesday at Hudson; Thursday at Wesley Chapel

Scoop: The defending Class 6A state semifinalists got off to a strong start, beating Wiregrass Ranch and Dunnellon by a combined 20-6. Callie Turner, a sophomore who has already committed to Tennessee, has taken over as the ace. In the first two games, she has an ERA of 1.00 and 27 strikeouts. Turner has had plenty of support on offense with nine players who have knocked in at least one run.

2. Plant City (2-0)

This week: Tuesday at Plant; Thursday vs. Durant

Scoop: The Raiders had no trouble last week, beating Spoto and Tampa Bay Tech by a combined 16-0 in a pair of games that lasted a total of five innings because of the mercy rule. Edmilly Molina is 4-for-4, including two doubles and a triple, and has four RBIs to start the season. Things get tougher this week with a key Class 8A, District 6 game against Durant on Thursday.

3. Chamberlain (2-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Strawberry Crest

Scoop: Playing a tough early-season schedule, the Chiefs had an impressive start with a 5-4 win over Durant and a 13-1 win over defending region finalist Riverview. Gabby Vallee threw a two-hitter with 11 strikeouts against the Cougars. Shannon Maloney picked up the win against the Rams.

4. Academy of the Holy Names (1-0)

This week: Wednesday vs. Brooks DeBartolo; Thursday at Berkeley Prep

Scoop: In their only game last week, the Jaguars pounded Calvary Christian 8-0. The string of Class 4A, District 4 games continues this week with the defending champions hosting Brooks DeBartolo on Wednesday and playing at Berkeley Prep on Thursday.

5. Steinbrenner (1-0)

This week: Tuesday at Robinson; Thursday vs. Sickles

Scoop: The Warriors had no trouble in their season opener, beating King 15-0. This is a more challenging week with games against up-and-coming Robinson on Tuesday and a Class 8A, District 5 matchup against Sickles on Thursday.

6. Springstead (1-1)

This week: Thursday at South Lake; Friday vs. Citrus

Scoop: After beating Central 19-0 in the season opener, the Eagles lost 3-2 to Dunnellon in their first Class 6A, District 6 game of the season. Paige Pfent, the Times' North Suncoast Player of the Year, missed the first two games with a concussion but will be back this week. Abby Oliver is hitting .857 and Hannah Rizzuto is batting .667 with five RBIs.

7. East Bay (1-0)

This week: Tuesday at Spoto; Thursday at Riverview

Scoop: The Indians opened the season with a 22-0 win over Blake that lasted four innings. East Bay was supposed to play Middleton on Saturday but there was a misunderstanding and the game will be rescheduled. Jesseanne Ackerman was 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs in the opener.

8. Durant (1-1)

This week: Thursday at Plant City

Scoop: After losing to Chamberlain 5-4 in the season opener, the Cougars rebounded with a 9-1 win over defending state semifinalist Strawberry Crest. Sloan Hammons, a Florida Atlantic signee, had a big week. She is hit .567 with two triples and a homer. She also struck out a combined 16 batters in her first two starts.

9. Nature Coast (2-0)

This week: Tuesday at Hernando; Friday vs. Gulf

Scoop: The opening week helped the Sharks vault to the top of the standings in Class 5A, District 7 race with a 15-0 win over Fivay and a 10-0 win over Ridgewood. Abbey Primavera won both games and has struck out 16 batters in six innings. Four Nature Coast hitters already have at least three RBIs, led by Celine Kordon with four.

10. Canterbury (4-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. Miami Gulliver Prep

Scoop: The Crusaders had a busy opening week, playing five games. They fared well, with 11-10 wins against Kissimmee Osceola and Lake Brantley and a 3-0 win over defending Class 8A state finalist Countryside. Danielle Romanello, a Florida signee, already has 10 RBIs. Taylor Bump, a Michigan signee, has hit a home run in each of her past three games.

11. Sickles (5-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. Bloomingdale; Thursday vs. Steinbrenner

Scoop: The Gryphons went 4-1 to take second at the Lake Mary Early Bird Invitational. They beat Lake Mary, Sanford Seminole and Palm Harbor University before losing to Orange City University 9-5 in nine innings in the championship game.

12. Palm Harbor University (5-1)

This week: Thursday at Sarasota Riverview

Scoop: At the Lake Mary Early Bird Invitational, the Hurricanes went 3-1, beating Seminole Sanford, Lake Mary and Deland, and losing to Sickles. Taylor Norwood had three RBIs and was the winning pitcher in the 8-7 win over Deland. On Thursday, PHU travels to play Sarasota Riverview in the Class 9A, District 8 opener.

13. Alonso (2-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Hillsborough; Thursday at Newsome

Scoop: The Ravens, the defending Class 9A state finalist, opened the season by beating Jefferson and Leto by a combined 20-1. Calia Weisman went 3-for-3 with a double and a triple in the season-opening win against the Dragons. The biggest game this week is Thursday against Newsome.

14. Wharton (2-0)

This week: Tuesday at Gaither; Thursday at Wiregrass Ranch

Scoop: On their Twitter page, the Wildcats proclaim they are soon to be state champs. Wharton already is off to a solid start, beating Plant and Middleton the opening week of the season by a combined 32-0.

15. River Ridge (2-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Pasco; Thursday at Zephyrhills

Scoop: The Royal Knights have already showed a knack for pulling out close games. In the season opener, they scored in the seventh inning to beat Wiregrass Ranch 5-4. River Ridge followed that up with a 3-1 win over Hernando. Bre Blankenship is hitting .667 (4-for-6) and Melanie Rogers is 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA and 12 strikeouts.

16. Tampa Catholic (2-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Calvary Christian; Wednesday at Clearwater Central Catholic; Thursday vs. Tampa Prep

Scoop: The offense picked up where it left off last season, scoring a combined 27 runs in wins over Seffner Christian and Brooks DeBartolo to open the season. Alexa Russo, a USF recruit, is hitting .667 with a triple and homer and six RBIs. Tampa Catholic has three straight games against Class 4A, District 4 foes this week.

17. Robinson (2-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Steinbrenner; Thursday at Jefferson

Scoop: The Knights have put together a solid program but were still searching for a signature win against one of the elite teams in the area. They got it with a 2-0 victory over Newsome last week. Cassidy Renninger and Sammy Conlan have combined to throw 12 shutout innings so far this season.

18. Newsome (0-1)

This week: Tuesday at Freedom; Thursday vs. Alonso

Scoop: After winning a state title in 2015 and being nationally ranked for most of last season, the Wolves are in the unfamiliar position of having a losing record after one week. Newsome managed just four hits in a 2-0 loss to Robinson. This week sees a rematch with Alonso, the team that knocked the Wolves out of the playoffs in last year's region quarterfinals.

19. Strawberry Crest (1-1)

This week: Tuesday at Chamberlain; Thursday vs. Freedom

Scoop: The Chargers split their first two games, beating Tampa Bay Tech 16-1 and losing 9-1 to Durant. Celia Higgins went 4-for-5 with a double last week. On Thursday, Strawberry Crest begins Class 8A, District 4 play against Freedom.

20. Countryside (2-2)

This week: Thursday at St. Petersburg

Scoop: To gain confidence, the Cougars eased into their schedule. It worked out the way they wanted with wins against Clearwater and Dunedin by a combined 25-1. The highlight was a one-hit shutout by Jordan Lewis against the Falcons. Countryside followed that with losses to Canterbury and Lake Brantley this past weekend.

21. Bloomingdale (1-0)

This week: Tuesday at Sickles; Thursday vs. Brandon

Scoop: The Bulls opened the season with a 12-0 win over Lennard. Amanda Beinborn was 3-for-4 with a double and three RBIs. Alexys Lawson struck out six batters in two innings of work.

22. East Lake (1-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Lakewood

Scoop: Last week's 13-1 win over Osceola in the season opener showed off the Eagles' offensive firepower. Kendyl Crean hit a three-run homer. There were some nice defensive plays, too, highlighted by Athena Andrews' diving catch to turn a double play.

23. Mitchell (2-0)

This week: Monday at Ridgewood; Tuesday at Dixie Hollins; Wednesday at Clearwater

Scoop: It was an easy opening week with the Mustangs beating Gulf and Pasco by a combined 31-4. Lexi Clark and Bailey Williams each have RBIs in the first two games. Ashley Autuori has struck out nine in seven innings of work.

24. Boca Ciega (2-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Largo; Thursday at Pinellas Park

Scoop: Caylie Van Auken, the Pirates' ace, got a lot of run support last week. The Pirates started the season by beating Tarpon Springs 7-2 and Lakewood 23-0. Mia Blasingane went 4-for-5 with a home run and seven RBIs.

25. Freedom (2-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Newsome; Thursday at Strawberry Crest

Scoop: After struggling much of last season, the Patriots appear to be turning things around. The biggest win last week came against Riverview in the season opener. Niyah Pope, a freshman, had a nice debut, going 3-for-5 with four RBIs in both games last week.

On the bubble: Wiregrass Ranch (1-2), Osceola (0-1), Tarpon Springs (1-1), Academy at the Lakes (1-0), Gaither (1-0), Sunlake (2-0).

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