HomeTeam 25: Softball rankings

TAMPA - Chamberlain pitcher Gaby Vallee thanks catcher Vivica Smith on Tuesday moments after Smith made a catch on a pop up behind home plate. Chamberlain and Vallee went on to take the victory 3-1 over Alonso. Taken 3-2-17 by Scott Purks
TAMPA - Chamberlain pitcher Gaby Vallee thanks catcher Vivica Smith on Tuesday moments after Smith made a catch on a pop up behind home plate. Chamberlain and Vallee went on to take the victory 3-1 over Alonso. Taken 3-2-17 by Scott Purks
Published March 6 2017

1. Chamberlain (6-0)

This week: Tuesday at Hillsborough; Thursday at Gaither

Scoop: A big reason the Chiefs still are undefeated is their ability to get off to fast starts. The trend continued last week when Chamberlain scored three runs in the first inning and held on to beat Alonso 3-1. Gabby Vallee had seven strikeouts against the Ravens.

2. Steinbrenner (6-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Plant; Thursday vs. Hillsborough

Scoop: The Warriors keep finding ways to get out of jams. They have given up seven or more hits in each of their past three games but have allowed just three runs. The defense, which has turned six double plays this season, is a big reason the hits have caused little damage.

3. East Bay (8-0)

This week: Tuesday at Durant; Thursday vs. Plant City

Scoop: The Indians won the Buffalo Stampede Tournament at the Villages for the second straight year, beating Lake Weir 1-0, Orlando First Academy 10-4 and Taylor 5-4 in the championship game. East Bay has won four games by a run this season. Haley Murphy is 6-0 with a 1.12 ERA.

4. River Ridge (5-0)

This week: Tuesday vs. Anclote; Thursday at Pasco

Scoop: After losing all three meetings against Land O'Lakes last season, the Royal Knights got past their nemesis with a 2-0 victory last week to move into sole possession of first place in Class 6A, District 7. Melanie Rogers allowed just two hits and had strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings of work against the Gators.

5. Land O'Lakes (6-1)

This week: Monday at Hudson; Tuesday at Zephyrhills; Thursday at Anclote; Friday at Fivay

Scoop: The loss to River Ridge snapped the Gators' three-game win streak to start the season. Land O'Lakes bounced back by going on another three-game streak, beating Mitchell 4-0, Pasco 10-5 and Sunlake 7-0. Callie Turner is 4-1 with a 0.55 ERA and 80 strikeouts.

6. Springstead (5-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. Dunnellon; Wednesday vs. East Ridge

Scoop: Since losing to Dunnellon two weeks ago, the Eagles have won four straight, including a 3-0 victory over previously undefeated Academy of the Holy Names. On Tuesday, Springstead gets a rematch with Dunnellon in a game that will most likely decide the top seed in the Class 6A, District 6 tournament.

7. Nature Coast (6-0)

This week: Monday at Belleview; Wednesday at Weeki Wachee; Thursday at Fivay

Scoop: The Sharks coasted last week, beating Hudson and Central by a combined 27-2. Chayse Skinner has the most pop in the linup with two home runs and 10 RBIs. Monday's game against Belleview is a matchup of undefeated teams.

8. Plant City (5-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. Bloomingdale; Thursday at East Bay

Scoop: The Raiders' perfect start ended with a 4-1 loss to Strawberry Crest last week. After not allowing a run in the first four games, Plant City has given up a combined six in the past two. The offense, which had struggled, came alive with 10 hits in a 6-2 win over Riverview.

9. Palm Harbor University (9-1)

This week: Tuesday at Countryside; Thursday at Alonso

Scoop: The Hurricanes were impressive last week, beating East Lake, Canterbury and Boca Ciega, all of which were ranked or receiving votes. Faith Allen, a sophomore, had the winning hit against the Eagles and scored the winning run against the Pirates.

10. Academy at the Lakes (7-0)

This week: Tuesday at Canterbury; Friday at Hernando Christian Academy

Scoop: Alexis Kilfoyl has been masterful on the mound, allowing just eight hits and two earned runs in six starts. She also has 58 strikeouts. On Tuesday, the Wildcats face Canterbury in a game for sole possession of first place in Class 2A, District 5.

11. Strawberry Crest (5-2)

This week: Tuesday vs. Leto; Thursday at Wiregrass Ranch

Scoop: After starting 1-2, the Chargers have won four straight, including victories over previously undefeated Plant City and Newsome. Pitching has been the key with Strawberry Crest allowing just five runs in the past four games.

12. Sickles (7-3)

This week: Tuesday at Wharton; Thursday vs. Spoto

Scoop: The Gryphons snapped their three-game losing streak with wins against Alonso (2-0) and Plant (5-4) last week. Natalie Zweig, a sophomore, threw a three-hit shutout against the Ravens and tossed three scoreless innings in a win over the Panthers.

13. Canterbury (5-3)

This week: Monday vs. Keswick Christian; Tuesday vs. Academy at the Lakes; Thursday vs. St. Petersburg; Friday vs. Lakeland Christian

Scoop: The Crusaders are adept at hitting the long ball. Danielle Romanello, a Florida recruit, has five home runs and 18 RBIs. Teammate Taylor Bump, who is going to Michigan, has four homers and 12 RBIs. Canterbury has four games this week, none bigger than Tuesday's 2A-5 matchup with Academy at the Lakes.

14. Countryside (5-2)

This week: Tuesday vs. Palm Harbor University; Thursday vs. Largo

Scoop: The Cougars got a jump in the Class 8A, District 7 standings by surviving a 14-inning marathon to beat Pinellas Park 3-2 and cruising to a 7-2 win over East Lake. Jordan Lewis had a combined 19 strikeouts in the two wins last week.

15. Academy of the Holy Names (4-2)

This week: Monday at Calvary Christian; Friday vs. Tampa Catholic

Scoop: It was a tough week for the Jaguars, who went 1-2 with losses to Springstead and Academy at the Lakes. The offense struggled in those two games, combining for just run. Academy of the Holy Names has to get back on track with key Class 4A, District 4 games against Calvary Christian and Tampa Catholic this week.

16. Alonso (4-2)

This week: Tuesday vs. Freedom; Thursday vs. Palm Harbor University

Scoop: After starting 4-0, the Ravens lost to Sickles (2-0) and Chamberlain (3-1) to fall from the unbeaten ranks. Pitching has kept Alonso in games, but the offense has to do more after combining to score just one run last week. Thursday's game against PHU is for sole possession of first in Class 9A, District 8.

17. Durant (3-3)

This week: Tuesday vs. East Bay; Thursday at Jefferson

Scoop: The Cougars had a chance to go 3-0 for the week but let a 3-1 lead slip away in the bottom of the seventh in a 4-3 loss to Bloomingdale. Kelly Swank, a freshman, leads the team in hitting with a .500 average.

18. East Lake (3-2)

This week: Tuesday at Pinellas Park; Wednesday vs. Dunedin; Friday vs. Seminole

Scoop: The perfect start ended with losses to Palm Harbor University and Countryside. The offense, which has scored 43 runs in the first three games, managed just two runs each against the Hurricanes and the Cougars.

19. Mitchell (7-1)

This week: Wednesday vs. Osceola; Friday at Northeast

Scoop: The Mustangs lost to Land O'Lakes to end their seven-game win streak to start the season. The offense had averaged 11 runs a game before being shut out against the Gators. Wednesday's game against Osceola is a matchup of last year's Class 7A, District 10 championship game.

20. Gaither (5-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. King; Thursday at Chamberlain

Scoop: The Cowboys are no longer unbeaten after losing 7-6 to Freedom in a game that lasted eight innings. Down 6-3, Gaither scored three runs to tie the game before losing in extra innings. Thursday's game against Chamberlain is a rematch of last year's Class 7A, District 8 championship game.

21. Wharton (4-2)

This week: Tuesday vs. Sickles; Friday vs. Freedom

Scoop: Both losses were one-run games against Gaither and Steinbrenner. Chloe Lee (.688 average) and Alexandria Dixon (.615) are the top hitters in the Wildcats' lineup.

22. Bloomingdale (6-2)

This week: Tuesday at Plant City; Thursday vs. Riverview

Scoop: Both games last week were decided by a run. The Bulls lost to undefeated East Bay 3-2 in eight innings and beat Durant 4-3. Bloomingdale scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh in the win against the Cougars. Alexys Lawson is among the state's leaders in strikeouts with 74.

23. Tampa Catholic (5-1)

This week: Monday at Berkeley Prep; Wednesday at Tampa Prep; Friday at Academy of the Holy Names

Scoop: Since losing to Calvary Christian, the Crusaders have won three straight, outscoring opponents by a combined 43-7. Friday's game against bitter rival Holy Names features the two teams that have played for the Class 4A, District 4 title the past two seasons.

24. Robinson (6-1)

This week: Thursday vs. Plant

Scoop: As expected, the Knights had no trouble last week, beating Spoto, Middleton and King by a combined 42-1. Alex Kirkner, a freshman, leads the team in hitting with a .647 average.

25. Osceola (6-1)

This week: Tuesday vs. Northeast; Wednesday at Mitchell

Scoop: The Warriors committed six errors in a 13-1 loss to East Lake three weeks ago. Throw out that performance and Osceola has been dominant, winning its other six games by a combined 54-1.

On the bubble: Freedom (3-3), Pinellas Park (4-2), Boca Ciega (5-2), Dunedin (6-2), Sunlake (4-3), Calvary Christian (5-2).