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State of the softball season so far

Mitchell and Heather Muccino, tagging out Countryside’s Desiree Baker, have been a surprise.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

Mitchell and Heather Muccino, tagging out Countryside’s Desiree Baker, have been a surprise.

BY IZZY GOULD | Times Staff Writer

Have the seemingly relentless rain and various postponements got you down? Tired of wondering if River Ridge and Land O'Lakes will ever play? We've managed to catch enough innings to get you caught up in case you were too busy following Brandon's boys basketball team to Lakeland. The skinny:

Queens of the hill

Pasco (10-0): The Pirates quickly established themselves as the team to beat with a nice blend of offense and defense, the same formula that helped Pasco reach the 2007 Class 4A state final. The Pirates have at least three pitchers to choose from, including ace Colena Lazar (8-0). Offensively, Lucy Schneider is hitting .563 with 16 RBIs and three home runs. The toughest game was a 5-4 win at Lakeland McKeel Academy. Those teams play again at the Bone Yard on March 20.

Surprises

Zephyrhills (4-3): The Bulldogs haven't played in two weeks thanks to a pair of rainouts. Coach Craig Milburn really wants to get tonight's rematch with Pasco in, hoping a win — the Pirates won 2-0 on Feb. 8 — might jump-start what can only be considered a disappointing start. Zephyrhills began the season boasting a roster that had lost no one from last year. Expectations were high, but losses to Gulf, Pasco and Nature Coast were disappointments. Milburn hopes the unexpected break has helped the girls refocus.

Nature Coast (8-2): First-year coach Mettina Maggiore has relied on sharp pitching from Ashley Antczak, who has pitched all but six innings, notching 45 strikeouts with her unique style of turning her head to third base before releasing the pitch. Whatever works, right?

Mitchell (8-2): The Mustangs have overcome the loss of catcher Courtney Stager (broken knuckle). A pair of losses to Countryside proved the only problems as ace Olivia Kline quickly meshed with freshman catcher Stephanie Palazzolo. Mitchell has played well thanks to strong hitting from Tenisha Dixon, Heather Muccino, Kline and Hannah Gatley.

Still wondering

Gulf (6-5): The Bucs had to replace a few players from last year's team, but a tough schedule to start has them barely treading above .500. Three straight wins to begin the season were quickly overshadowed by four losses in five games to Springstead, Mitchell, Pasco and River Ridge. Devin Fellman and Brittany Mayhill have been offensive bright spots while pitcher Sara Hill has been effective.

Springstead (6-2): The Eagles were chugging along with a nice balance of youth and experience. Then they slammed into a 10-0 loss at Pasco on Wednesday. How the Eagles and ace Becky Powell respond will be intriguing.

River Ridge (6-0): This might seem crazy considering River Ridge has outscored opponents 89-10. But those wins came against Wesley Chapel (0-6), Hudson (2-9), Ridgewood (0-7), Central (3-4), Gulf (6-5) and Sunlake (2-9). The Royal Knights host Mitchell on Tuesday, so that should give an idea of where they stand.

Land O'Lakes (5-0): The Gators are in the same boat as River Ridge, still searching for a quality win. A game against Mitchell on Thursday looks like it will be the first shot. Loren Smith, Alexis Aubuchon and Jessica Austin have been solid at the plate. And Kasey Ellis has done a nice job pitching, though ace Michelle Bradley is quietly getting warmed up against tougher opponents.

Izzy Gould can be reached at izzy

gould@gmail.com or (727) 580-5315.

State of the softball season so far 03/06/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 6, 2008 9:04pm]

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