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Northside softball flexing offensive muscle

Six weeks into the season, the last remaining undefeated team in the county is not preseason favorite East Lake.

Nor Pinellas Park, Palm Harbor University or even Class A power Canterbury.

Try Northside Christian.

Behind first-year coach John Anderson, an assistant on former coach Steve Fisher's staff, the Mustangs are 9-0.

And they're not just beating teams, they're punishing them with a high-powered offense that is averaging more than 16 runs a game.

In its latest two wins, Northside outscored Out-of-Door Academy and St. Stephen's by a combined 44-7. The Mustangs' season low for runs came in an 8-2 victory over Seffner Christian on Feb. 23.

"We take a lot of pride in what we've been able to do," Anderson said. "We just have a roster of players that have been in our system forever, and we've been teaching the same hitting style for four years."

Stephanie Bonalewicz and Katheryn Brown are batting over .700. Freshman pitcher Jessica Anderson sports a sub-1.00 ERA, has two home runs and leads the team in RBIs.

"We've probably got our strongest team ever, in my opinion," Anderson said.

Northside will be tested this weekend when it travels to Plant City for a midseason tournament sponsored by Seffner Christian. The Mustangs open Friday with Tampa Catholic, one of the top Class 3A teams in the state.

WOUNDED WARRIORS: Osceola was dealt a major blow to start the season with the loss of its starting battery to injury.

Senior catcher Meghan Edwards, one of the county's best at that position, dislocated the ring finger on her catching hand diving back to first base in the first preseason game and has yet to play in the regular season. Two years ago, Edwards tore her ACL midway through the season and was lost for the year.

"She's played only about half of her high school career," Osceola coach Calvin Van Auken said.

Van Auken expects Edwards will be cleared to play Friday when the Warriors host Palmetto in an important district game.

"She'll mostly likely DP until we see how her finger is holding up," Van Auken said.

Starting pitcher Jordan Bennett, a junior, has battled a lower arm strain in her pitching arm that has forced her to miss nearly three weeks, further compounding Osceola's injury woes.

Bennett has pitched three innings in the past couple of games, according to Van Auken, and is close to being able to go the distance in an outing.

"She hasn't thrown a lot, but I would say she's just now getting back to full strength."

Osceola is looking to reach .500 in Class 4A, District 10 after starting 0-2 with losses to Braden River and Lakewood Ranch. The Warriors' next two games are at home against district foes: Friday vs. Palmetto and Tuesday against Dixie Hollins.

EYE-OPENING STAT OF THE WEEK: In 13 games for Countryside this season, junior centerfielder Ayanna Andrews has 24 stolen bases.

The speedy LSU commit helped lead the Cougars to a 2-2 record last weekend at the Sebastian River Spring Fling tournament and a first-place finish in the silver bracket.

Bryan Burns can be reached at bburns@sptimes.com

Northside softball flexing offensive muscle 03/17/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 9:33pm]
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