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HomeTeam 15: Softball rankings for Tampa Bay

East Lake, still searching for competitive games, remains in the top spot.

Finding competitive games late in the season has been the biggest challenge for East Lake, which remains at No. 1. After calling area teams for weeks, the Eagles were able to pick up a game against Steinbrenner next week, which will be a quality matchup before the district tournaments begin.

The Elite

1. East Lake (19-1)

Up next: Tuesday vs. St. Petersburg; Thursday vs. Dunedin

Last spot: No. 1

Why they stayed put: Once again, the Eagles were on cruise control, beating Pinellas Park 4-0 and Seminole 14-4 last week to extend their win streak to 18. Tori Brennan threw a two-hit shutout with eight strikeouts and Caroline Jacquay and Nikki Steiniger each had multiple hits against the Patriots. East Lake has yet to lose to an area opponent and has already clinched the top seed in Class 8A, District 7. On Tuesday, the Eagles can finish undefeated in district play in the regular season with a win over St. Petersburg.

2. Sunlake (14-2)

Up next: Monday vs. Land O’Lakes; Tuesday at Dixie Hollins; Wednesday vs. Northeast; Thursday vs. Clearwater

Last spot: No. 2

Why they stayed put: The Seahawks, winners of 12 straight, have the top seed in the Class 7A-10 tournament wrapped up with another week left of district play. The offense continued to put up big numbers in victories over Cypress Creek (16-2) and Pasco (11-0) last week. Kendra Falby went 4-for-5 and Alexis Duff was 3-for-4, including a homer, and had six RBIs against the Coyotes. Falby and Bella Sanchez each had multiple hits the following game against the Pirates. Sunlake has reached double digits in runs in five of their past six games. The big bats in the lineup will be tested Monday against Land O’Lakes and ace Callie Turner in a game that is a makeup from a rain postponement last month.

3. Newsome (14-3)

Up next: Tuesday at Plant: Thursday at Palm Harbor University

Last spot: No. 3

Why they stayed put: Since losing to East Lake at Lady ’Canes Spring Classic three weeks ago, the Wolves have rebounded to win seven straight. Last week, Newsome beat Strawberry Crest and Sarasota Riverview by a combined 13-1. The 2-0 victory over the Rams not only avenged a loss earlier this season but also vaulted Newsome into a tie with Alonso for first place in Class 9A, District 8. Mary Beth Feldman was stellar against Sarasota Riverview, throwing a three-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts. The Wolves finish up district Thursday against Palm Harbor University.

4. Plant City (13-2)

Up next: Tuesday at Bloomingdale; Thursday vs. East Bay

Last spot: No. 4

Why they stayed put: Something about playing Riverview brings out the best in Raiders ace Ashley Blessin. After throwing a no-hitter and striking out 32 in the first meeting against the Sharks, Blessin threw a perfect game with 16 strikeouts in the rematch. Those feats prompted an umpire that first called one of Blessin’s games when she was 12 to personally send a cookie cake to the school. Blessin has also helped Plant City blank every opponent during the team’s current six-game win streak.

5. Hernando (20-1)

Up next: Tuesday at Cypress Creek; Wednesday at Springstead; Thursday vs. Weeki Wachee

Last spot: No. 5

Why they stayed put: The Leopards have outscored opponents this season by a combined 221-12. That’s a big reason they are ranked sixth in the state in Class 5A by MaxPreps. Last week, Hernando beat Central 19-1, Hudson 6-0 and Gulf 17-0 to extend its win streak to 10. Madyson Lamp is hitting .577 with seven home runs and 35 RBIs. Ali Shenefield is 18-1 as a starter with a 0.45 ERA and a state-leading 254 strikeouts this season.

On the cusp

6. Land O’ Lakes (18-2)

Up next: Monday at Sunlake; Tuesday vs. Tarpon Springs

Last spot: No. 6

Why they stayed put: Of the Gators’ three wins last week, the one against rival River Ridge was by far the biggest. Callie Turner was 2-for-3 and Jolene Bodner hit a two-run homer in a 5-2 victory that not only exacted revenge for a loss to the Royal Knights earlier this season but also vaulted Land O’ Lakes into sole possession of first place in Class 6A, District 7. The Gators clinched the top seed in the district tournament later in the week when River Ridge lost to Wesley Chapel. Land O’Lakes still has some tough non-district games left starting with Monday’s matchup against rival Sunlake.

7. Chamberlain (14-3)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Hillsborough; Thursday at Gaither

Last spot: No. 12

Why they moved up: The Chiefs had a pair of 7-0 victories over King and East Bay last week to keep their momentum going. Chamberlain has now won five straight and 12 of their last 13. The win over King was via forfeit because the Lions did not have enough players to field a starting lineup. Rebecca Dorsett and Armana Ware each had RBIs early against the Indians.

8. Steinbrenner (13-4)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Wharton; Thursday at Plant

Last spot: No. 13

Why they moved up: Since losing to Hernando at the Leopard Softball Slam three weeks ago, the Warriors have won six straight, the last two coming against Bloomingdale (8-5) and Tampa Bay Tech (10-0). Five players had multiple hits against the Bulls. One of Madison Frey’s hits was a homer, her first of the season. Ashley Shroll threw a no-hitter and was one walk away from a perfect game against the Titans,

9. River Ridge (15-5)

Up next: Wednesday vs. Gulf

Last spot: No. 7

Why they moved down: The Royal Knights are in a funk. They have lost three of their past four, including games against Class 6A, District 7 foes Land O’ Lakes and Wesley Chapel that knocked them out of first place. River Ridge’s lone win in that span came against Zephyrhills. Jessica Bryson and Madisen Vozdecky each went 3-for-4 in that game.

10. Academy at the Lakes (10-6)

Up next: Monday vs. Foundation Christian Academy; Tuesday at Lakewood Ranch; Thursday vs. Admiral Farragut

Last spot: No. 9

Why they moved down: The Wildcats are not at full strength. Lexi Kilfoyl, the team’s ace, has missed more than a month on the mound with a strained muscle in her throwing shoulder. Brooke Blankenship, a stellar shortstop who has already committed to Florida State, is out with an elbow injury that required surgery. Last week, AATL lost to rival Canterbury 8-7 in eight innings and fell to the No. 2 seed in the Class 2A, District 5 tournament. But there is some encouraging news. Kilfoyl threw some this weekend and could get in some innings this week.

Don’t overlook

11. Mitchell (15-5)

Up next: Monday vs. Dixie Hollins; Wednesday vs. Wesley Chapel

Last spot: Unranked

Why they moved in: Since going 5-5 for a stretch in March, the Mustangs have taken advantage of a light schedule to win seven straight. Last week, they beat Osceola 7-2 and Clearwater 6-0. Mia Pulice was 3-for-4 with three RBIs against the Warriors. Wednesday’s game against upstart Wesley Chapel is one worth checking out.

12. Alonso (10-6)

Up next: Tuesday at Sickles; Thursday vs. Sarasota Riverview

Last spot: Unranked

Why they moved in: The Ravens snapped a three-game losing streak with wins against Gaither (8-0) and Palm Harbor University (14-11) last week. Annissa Quinonez threw a two-hit shutout with three strikeouts against the Cowboys. Alexis Buchman, Kristin Kopp and Scarlett Montalvo each had three hits against the Hurricanes. The win over PHU moved the Alonso into a tie with Newsome for first place in Class 9A, District 8.

13. Palm Harbor University (15-6)

Up next: Tuesday at Pinellas Park; Thursday vs. Newsome

Last spot: No. 12

Why they moved down: Less than two weeks ago, the Hurricanes had a share of first place in Class 9A, District 8. Now, they are tied for last after losing two straight district games, the last coming against Alonso four days ago. OF PHU’s six losses, five have come against teams ranked in the top 15.

14. Robinson (17-5)

Up next: Thursday at Blake

Last spot: Unranked

Why they moved in: The Knights reached the title game of the Longshore Memorial Tournament in Naples before losing to champion Coral Springs Charter. Robinson went 3-1, including notching impressive victories over Fort Myers and Doral Academy. Alex Lantrip (.583 average) and Alexis Smith (.549) are the team’s top hitters.

15. Calvary Christian (16-3)

Up next: Tuesday vs. Berkeley Prep; Thursday vs. Tarpon Springs

Last spot: No. 14

Why they moved down: The Warriors split their two games last week, beating Academy of the Holy Names 7-1 to complete the regular-season sweep and losing to Tampa Catholic 6-4. Despite the loss, Calvary Christian can still clinch the top seed in the Class 4A, District 4 tournament with a win over Berkeley Prep this week. Hayley Eaton leads the team in hitting with a .588 average.

On the bubble: Sickles (15-6), Durant (11-5), Wharton (9-6), Freedom (11-2), Bloomingdale (12-5), Springstead (15-5), Tampa Catholic (14-6), Canterbury (14-7), Tarpon Springs (11-6), Academy of the Holy Names (11-7).