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Saluting Nature Coast’s softball seniors

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Nature Coast's softball seniors

For Nature Coast’s three seniors, everything was coming together. They had gone through some uneven seasons, but the lessons learned were paying off. Now veterans, the trio helped the Sharks get off to one of the best starts in school history (8-0). Nature Coast was dominant, too, outscoring foes by a combined 97-11. Then came the coronavirus pandemic, forcing schools to close for the remainder of the semester and abruptly ending their softball season. Though their high school careers are over, the three will still see each other plenty on softball fields in college. Only now they will be opponents. 

Meet the seniors

Jailene Gonzalez

2B/3B/OF Jailene Gonzalez

2020 stats: .484 avg., 9 RBIs, 3 2Bs

Career stats: .450 avg., 41 runs, 27 RBIs

College: St. John’s River 

Morgan Johnson

OF Morgan Johnson

2020 stats: .471 avg., 12 RBIs, 11 runs 

Career stats: .385 avg., 90 runs, 57 RBIs

College: Lake Sumter State 

Senior memories: “It means a lot to have played with this group. I’ve been playing softball with Alyssa since we were seven years old. That;s what makes it pretty special.”

Best career moment: “Beating Taylor (in the Class 5A region quarterfinals two years ago). We were a young team, and we weren’t expected to win that game. It gave us a lot of confidence going forward.” 

Alyssa Kelly

P Alyssa Kelly 

2020 stats: 9-0, 1.11 ERA, 63 Ks

Career stats: 39-17, 2.66 ERA, 303 Ks

College: Daytona State 

Senior memories: “Even though we are all different, we get along and are great friends. It’s hard, too, because we were playing so well and felt like we could go far in the playoffs before our season was cut short.”

Best career moment: “Probably our sophomore season when we beat Taylor. We were all together on the bus ride home, and it was just so much fun.”

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Baseball

No more fans at Pasco County sporting events after COVID spike

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Stock football stadium

Pasco County has decided to limit all athletic activities to students and coaches due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases. 

That means no fans or media members in attendance. 

The new rule starts on Monday and will last until the positivity rate, which has climbed to nine percent, drops to below five percent for a rolling seven-day period. 

In the past two weeks, two county football teams — Wiregrass Ranch and Fivay — had to forfeit playoff games because of a player testing positive for coronavirus and multiple team members and coaches having to quarantine due to contact tracing. 

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Coronavirus

COVID case ends Osceola’s volleyball season

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Osceola, which made the Class 5A region finals in volleyball last season, had to forfeit Monday’s district quarterfinal match because its entire junior varsity and varsity teams are quarantining after a player tested positive for the coronavirus on Sept. 25, Pinellas County athletic director Al Bennett said.  

By forfeiting, the Warriors ended their season. They were ranked fifth in the state in Class 5A and were expected to go on another deep playoff run.

“We have to follow what the health officials tell us,” Bennett said. “It’s tough because Osceola is one of our best volleyball teams in the county. I talked to the Florida High School Athletic Association and they said there were plenty of other teams around the state in the same situation.”

Under CDC and Pinellas County health department guidelines, any student athlete who tests positive must be quarantined, as well as anyone who comes within six feet for more than a 15-minute duration without any face covering. Osceola’s quarantine ends on Oct. 19, a week after the district tournament.. 

All the players have currently tested negative, including the one who was originally positive. But the quarantine did not end. The Warriors also had to postpone their appearance in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game. That title game against St. Petersburg will be made up once the Green Devils’ season ends. 

“It’s heartbreaking for the seniors to have their season end this way, but we’re really excited for the chance to play the PCAC Final at home for senior night as our last match of the season, against our toughest competition, St Petersburg,” Osceola coach Ashley Martin said.”It will feel like a state championship since a trophy is involved.”    

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Coronavirus

PHU cancels season opener after a football player tests positive for coronavirus

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Palm Harbor University’s season opener against rival East Lake this Friday has been cancelled after a Hurricanes player tested positive for coronavirus, Pinellas County athletic director Al Bennett confirmed in a text message.

It was unclear how many PHU players are currently under quarantine. According to CDC and county health department guidelines, a player who tests positive must quarantine, as well as anyone who comes within six feet for more than a 15 minute duration with a face covering.

The Hurricanes next game is scheduled for Sept. 17 at Wharton. Bennett said the school is looking into moving that game to Saturday or Monday to avoid another cancellation.

The Eagles will now host Sarasota Riverview in Friday’s opener.

This is the fourth area football program that had to cancel its season opener after having a player test positive for the virus.

Hillsborough and Jefferson, which were supposed to play on Friday, both have players under quarantine. Their opponents, Chamberlain and Gaither, are now kicking off the regular season against each other.

Zephyrhills is in a similar situation and had to cancel its first two games.

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