More so than recent seasons, injuries to key players have been a major concern for area teams.
Tarpon Springs is the latest to suffer. Spongers coach Dion Weaver said pitcher/third baseman Jessica Allen is out for the rest of the season with a hyperextended back, depleting an already inexperienced lineup. Allen was one of just three returning starters.
"We'll miss her," Weaver said. "It's unfortunate."
Allen, a junior, hurt her back in October. She tried to play through the pain this season but had to shut it down for good at the start of this week.
"It just got worse and worse and worse," Weaver said. "Walking is actually an activity for her now."
St. Petersburg received good news when it learned starting catcher Amelina Gadiwalla, a sophomore, sprained her hand at practice Friday rather than breaking it as feared. If Gadiwalla is not available this weekend, she'll be back next week, according to St. Petersburg coach Kristine Delk.
PHU'S UNSUNG DUO: Seniors Madison O'Brien and Jackie Katchuk attract most of the attention for 12-2 Palm Harbor University because of their ability to drive in runs and hit for power. The sluggers are arguably the best Nos. 3-4 batters in the county.
But don't overlook leadoff hitter Megan Copeland and Lindsay Fenlon in the two spot. Their ability to get on base has the Hurricanes' offense humming midway through the season.
"Megan and Lindsey have been incredible," coach Chuck Poetter said of his sophomores. "They've really set the table for Madison and Jackie."
The Hurricanes average nearly 11 runs a game against a formidable schedule. Tuesday, they had 16 hits and 16 runs in a win over Northeast.
CAN-DO CRUSADER: Junior Krissy Longstreet is Canterbury's top pitcher, accumulating five wins and a 0.44 ERA; she is also its leading hitter with a team-high .447 average and 15 RBIs.
Her versatility doesn't end there. When Longstreet's not pitching she moves behind the plate, where she is receiving increased recruiting attention. She also fills in at third, and if starting shortstop Jennifer Crosthwaite goes down, coach Jody Moore doesn't hesitate sliding Longstreet into that role.
Longstreet's multi-faceted ability stems from a tremendous drive to improve, according to Moore.
"Krissy does a lot extra on her own time," Moore said. "After practice, she'll work out at home. She really gives her all to the game."