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Volleyball: Region final wrap-up

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Class 7A

2020 FHSAA Volleyball State Championships 7A FHSAA Girls Volleyball

Plant 3, Vero Beach 1

Slow starts have been common for the Panthers this season. 

In September, they lost four of five matches during a rough stretch. In the region semifinals, they lost the opening set to rival Steinbrenner. 

Each time, Plant showed its resolve.

The Panthers rebounded from their mid-season struggles by turning it on when it mattered most. After losing the opening set to the Warriors early last week, Plant won the next three sets to move on to the next round. 

In Saturday’s region final, the Panthers found themselves in another hole after losing the first set to Vero Beach. 

Once again, Plant stormed back.

The Panthers took care of the next three sets to win 19-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-16.   

For the fifth time in the past six seasons, the Panthers advanced to the state semifinals. They will host Lake Nona on Saturday with the chance to reach the final for the first time since 2018. 

Class 6A

2020 FHSAA Volleyball State Championships 6A FHSAA Girls Volleyball

St. Petersburg 3, Ocala Forest 1

The Green Devils’ season of superlatives continues. 

After advancing to the region final for the first time earlier in the week, St. Petersburg followed that up by beating previously undefeated Ocala Forest 25-23, 25-22, 20-25, 27-25 to reach the state semifinals.

The Wildcats were dominant in compiling a perfect record entering Saturday’s match. After all, they had only lost one set all season. 

That changed quickly.

From the start, the Green Devils took control, winning the first two sets. Even when St. Petersburg fell in the third set, there was no panic. That was due in large part to being tested in closely contested matches. 

The Green Devils outlasted rival East Lake in a region semifinal in which the first four sets were all decided by two points. 

So after losing a set on Saturday, St. Petersburg was able to regain momentum to win.

Madelyn Davis had 10 kills, nine blocks and five digs to lead the Green Devils. Others who played well include Jordan Bunce (15 digs and 13 kills), Livvi Harting (44 digs) and Nicole Robison (52 assists). 

Fort Myers 3, Hillsborough 0

The Terriers’ dream season ended. 

Hillsborough, which was playing in the region final for the first time, was swept by the Green Wave 25-16, 25-17, 25-12. 

Fort Myers was used to being in this position. This season was the Green Wave’s 22nd straight in the playoffs, a streak that ranks among the top 10 in the state. 

This time, they got past an elusive obstacle by reaching the state semifinals for the first time since 2015.  

Class 5A

2020 FHSAA Volleyball State Championships 5A FHSAA Girls Volleyball

Robinson 3, Port Charlotte 1

After a two-year absence, the Knights are back in the state semifinals.

Robinson made it by going on the road to knock off Port Charlotte in the region final 21-25, 26-24, 25-14, 25-17. 

Mila Yarich, a Yale commit, set the tone for the Knights with her play at the net.  

Ocala Vanguard 3, Fivay 1

The Falcons, who were in the region final for the third time in the past four seasons, were trying to take the next step by advancing to the state semifinals for the first time. 

To do that, Fivay had to get past the Knights, who won a state title in 2018 and reached the final last season. 

The experience in those big game matches showed. 

Vanguard made it back to the final four by cruising to a 25-16, 25-19, 25-13 win. 

Class 4A

2020 FHSAA Volleyball State Championships 4A FHSAA Girls Volleyball

Academy of the Holy Names  3, Weeki Wachee 0

After losing in the state semifinals last season, the Jaguars were motivated to get back. 

They did just that, sweeping previously undefeated Weeki Wachee 25-14, 25-21, 25-13 in the region final. 

But Academy of the Holy Names does not have that just-happy-to-be here mentality. 

This time, the Jaguars want to win it all. 

They certainly looked like a state championship team on Saturday. Campbell Halme (12 kills) and Kensley Warbritton (10 kills) led the attack on offense. 

When the Hornets tried spiking the ball, Halme and Camryn McClendon (combined eight blocks) were there to reject those shots. And Janessa Bailey set everything up with a team-high 33 assists.  

Class 3A

2020 FHSAA Volleyball State Championships 3A FHSAA Girls Volleyball

Bishop McLaughlin 3, Sarasota Cardinal Mooney 1

To reach the state semifinals for the second time in the past three seasons, the Hurricanes had to get past their biggest nemesis. 

Twice in the past two seasons, Bishop McLaughlin was swept by the Cougars, including last year’s region semifinals. 

The Hurricanes were not going to let that happen again. 

Led by a balanced — and efficient — attack, Bishop McLaughlin overcame their biggest obstacle to a potential state title by knocking off the defending champions 25-15, 21-25, 25-12, 25-19.

Audrey Koenig, an FSU commit, had 20 kills and Maddie Snider added 19 to lead the offense. Ezzie Thompson came up big at the net, blocking six shots. And Naomi Chinchar contributed with a team-high 40 assists. 

Class 3A, Region 2 was perhaps the toughest in the state. After all, five of the top 10 teams in 3A belonged to that region. 

After getting past the most difficult part of the bracket, the Hurricanes, ranked No. 1 overall in the state by MaxPreps and ninth nationally by MaxPreps, are well-positioned to win their first state title in school history. 

Only two steps remain.

The first comes Saturday when Bishop McLaughlin hosts Ocala Trinity Catholic, ranked 12th in 3A, in the state semifinals. 

Class 2A

2020 FHSAA Volleyball State Championships 2A FHSAA Girls Volleyball

Naples First Baptist Academy 3, Tampa Bay HEAT 0

The HEAT, which was trying to reach the state semifinals for the third time in the past five seasons, fell short of their goal, losing 25-12, 25-11, 25-12. 

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General

Time to vote: Softball player of the week

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Here are the nominees for the softball player of the week. Voting lasts through Tuesday. 

C Katie Bradbourne, Jr., Newsome: Went 3-for-4 with a homer and two runs scored in a 7A region quarterfinal win over Palm Harbor University. 

P Malia Connelly, Fr., Calvary Christian: Threw a five-hit shutout with four strikeouts in a 3A region win over Fort Myers Bishop Verot. 

UTIL Cat Durden, Fr., Pasco: Had two hits and drove in two runs in a 5A region quarterfinal win over Sumner. 

CF/INF/P Kendra Falby, Sr., Sunlake: Went 4-for-4 with a double, a triple, two RBIs and four runs scored in a win over Gaither in the 6A region quarterfinals. 

P/3B/CF Mia Fields, Fr., Land O’ Lakes: Threw a two-hit shutout with four strikeouts in a 5A region quarterfinal win over Seminole.

P/3B/2B Shannon Kendall, Fr., Seffner Christian: Threw a one-hit shutout with seven strikeouts and had a double, a homer and three RBIs at the plate in a 2A region quarterfinal win over Merritt Island Christian. 

C/3B Kadence Means, Jr., Wesley Chapel: Had two doubles, a homer and finished with six RBIs in a 4A region quarterfinal win over Dunedin. 

Pick the softball player of the week
Pick the softball player of the week
Pick the softball player of the week

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Softball: Tuesday’s region semifinal breakdown

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The softball playoffs continue with Tuesday’s region semifinal games. Admission is $7.  Here is the schedule with outlooks for each area game, as well as team leaders for each matchup.

Class 7A

Newsome (26-2) at Lakewood Ranch (25-1), 7

This is more like a state championship game. After all, both teams are ranked among the top three in the classification, the top five overall in the state and the top 12 nationally by MaxPreps. They met in the 7A-12 district final. The top-ranked Mustangs handed the Wolves their only loss of the season. Newsome rebounded by beating Palm Harbor University 7-6 in last week’s region quarterfinals. Trailing 6-3, the Wolves rallied with three runs in the fifth inning to tie it and  the winning run in the seventh to advance to the region semifinals and set up the rematch. Karley Shelton and Katy Bradbourne each homered and Samantha Walz scored two runs, including the winner in the seventh.  

Team leaders

CategoryNewsomeLakewood Ranch
Batting averageJadeyn Ruszkowski .522Cassidy McLellan .517
RBIsKarley Shelton 43Ella Coiner, Cassidy McLellan 31
Home runsKarley Shelton 12Ella Coiner, Cassidy McLellan 6
ERAMaria Brooks 0.55Olivia Laney 0.63
StrikeoutsKelsey Winters 171Olivia Laney 125

Class 6A

Sunlake (10-8) at Mitchell (20-6), 7

This is the third time the teams have met this season. The Mustangs won the previous two in convincing fashion, outscoring the Seahawks by a combined 19-3 in both contests. The last meeting, Mitchell jumped out to a 6-0 lead and cruised to a 6-1 victory in the 6A-10 district final. Vanessa Neptune led the Mustangs by going 2-for-3 with a double, three RBIs and two runs scored.  

Team leaders

CategorySunlakeMitchell
Batting averageKendra Falby .679Sydney Fowler .427
RBIsLarken Maseda 20Vanessa Neptune 23
Home runsLarken Maseda, Bella Sanchez 1Kinnah Kreidler 3
ERAMikayla Hoschak 3.50Ashley Altman 1.88
StrikeoutsMikayla Hoschak 66Sydney Fowler 99

Durant (25-3) at Bartow (17-2), 7:30

The Cougars are a combined 23-2 the past two seasons and enter the region semifinals on a nine-game win streak. That success is due in large part to an offense that is averaging 11 runs per game this year. Now comes the tough part. Durant faces the Yellow Jackets, who are ranked No. 2 in the classification and No. 4 overall in the state by MaxPreps. 

Team leaders

CategoryDurant Bartow
Batting averageShelby Allen .579Katelynn Oxley .402
RBIsEmily Smith 30Morgan Grubb 25
Home runsBricelyn Bedenbaugh, Emily Smith 4Morgan Grubb 5
ERAHaleigh Thomas 1.83Katelynn Oxley 0.75
StrikeoutsHaleigh Thomas 92Katelynn Oxley 281

Class 5A

Pasco (7-8)  at Auburndale (21-3), 7

After starting 2-6, the Pirates have won five of their last seven games, including victories over Wesley Chapel and Land O’ Lakes in the regular season and over Sumner in last week’s region quarterfinals. Mariah Bennett, Cat Durden and Kelsey Kadlub each had two hits against the Stingrays. The Bloodhounds, ranked No. 2 in the classification, have allowed just 22 runs all season. 

Team leaders

CategoryPascoAuburndale
Batting averageCat Durden .429Kassidy Pontbriant .431
RBIsKelsey Kadlub 16Johnkiria Bland 22
Home runsKelsey Kadlub 3Kassidy Pontbriant 3
ERALaci Carter 4.08Gena Stutz 0.59
StrikeoutsLaci Carter 32Gena Stutz 127

Land O’ Lakes (21-7) at River Ridge (22-5), 7

This is the third meeting between the rivals. The Royal Knights won the previous two, including a 5-3, nine-inning thriller in the 5A-5 district final. In that game, Katey Hauschen hit a walkoff, two-run homer. Both dominated their region quarterfinal games to set up another matchup. River Ridge beat Osceola 10-3 and Land O’ Lakes blanked Seminole 8-0. 

Team leaders

CategoryLand O’ LakesRiver Ridge
Batting averageNehanda Lewis .479Brooke Blankenship .556
RBIsNehanda Lewis 38Sophie Johnson 33
Home runsNehanda Lewis, Hannah Purcell 3Brooke Blankenship, Sophie Johnson 6
ERAMia Fields 1.64Jordan Sheets 1.68
StrikeoutsMia Fields 53Victoria Nearing 86

Class 4A

Wesley Chapel (13-13) at Hernando (23-4), 7

The host Leopards won the previous two matchups this season, beating the Wildcats 6-5 in eight innings two months ago and 9-0 in the 4A-9 district title game two weeks ago. Hernando reached double digits in hits in both games. The Wildcats have a powerful offense, too. They scored 12 runs to upset Nature Coast in the 4A-9 semifinals and 15 in a win over Dunedin in last week’s region quarterfinals. 

Team leaders

CategoryWesley ChapelHernando
Batting averageAshley Garrison .478Solaris Genberg .471
RBIsAshley Garrison 30Olivia Townsend 36
Home runsKadence Means 6Olivia Townsend 5
ERAGabriella Gonzalez-Villegas 3.80Ava Braswell 1.52
StrikeoutsMakenna Rice 40Ava Braswell 65

Robinson (23-4) at Lake Region (17-11), 7:30

Both teams are ranked among the top six in the classification by MaxPreps (the Thunder are No. 6 and the Knights are No. 4). Robinson has won 12 of its past 13 games. The offense is a big reason for that success. The Knights have reached double digits in runs in nine of those games. 

Team leaders

CategoryRobinsonLake Region
Batting averageJordan Stephens .544Raelyn Roland .420
RBIsDestiny DeHoyos 43Kaley Fail 19
Home runsDestiny DeHoyos 10Raelyn Roland 3
ERAAlyssa Boorom 2.60Alex Wright 1.58
StrikeoutsOlivia Van Zandt 66Alex Wright 94

Class 3A

Cypress Creek (16-5) at Lakeland McKeel Academy (19-7), 4:30

The big matchup will be Coyotes pitcher Hailey Vazquez, who has a 1.20 ERA and 165 strikeouts this season, going up against a Wildcats offense that is averaging more than nine runs per game and has scored a combined 41 runs in the last three contests. 

Team leaders

CategoryCypress CreekMcKeel Academy
Batting averageMandy Schwartz .531Charli Warren .559
RBIs Mandy Schwartz 26Kyndal Cornelius 44
Home runsMandy Schwartz 11Kerissa Howell 5
ERAHaley Vazquez 1.20Annalyse Torres 3.68
StrikeoutsHaley Vazquez 165Skyler Hodges 116

Calvary Christian (21-5) at Academy of the Holy Names (19-5), 7

This has turned into one of the most competitive rivalries in the area. The teams met three times already this season. The Jaguars hold a 3-2 in the series so far this season, though both wins were decided by a run, including a walkoff, sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh in the 3A-11 district final two weeks ago. 

Team leaders

CategoryCalvary ChristianAcademy of the Holy Names
Batting averageLeah Jarnac .642Rachael Petrarca .500
RBIsLeah Jarnac 37Camryn Feast, Annabelle Sardja 19
Home runsLeah Jarnac 5Rachael Petrarca 2
ERAMalia Connelly 2.12Keala Hollenkamp 1.47
StrikeoutsMalia Connelly 62Annabelle Sardja 73

Class 2A

Holy Trinity Episcopal (13-9) at Seffner Christian (17-6), 5

The Crusaders have on a roll, winning seven straight and 11 of their last 12. Defense and pitching are big factors in Seffner Christian posting shutouts in the last four games. Keeping the Tigers off the scoreboard could be tough considering they are averaging more than 10 runs per game. 

Team leaders

CategoryHoly TrinitySeffner Christian
Batting averageShea Dimmer .612Anna Burnside .492
RBIsShea Dimmer 41Amber Rodriguez 26
Home runsShea Dimmer 10Shannon Kendall 3
ERAShea Dimmer 3.48Shannon Kendall 3.03
StrikeoutsCali Perillo 67Shannon Kendall 113

Academy at the Lakes (17-4) at Canterbury (19-9), 6

This is the fifth straight time the teams have met in the region semifinals. The Crusaders won the first three en route to making the state semifinals. The Wildcats won the last two during their state championship seasons (2018-19). Canterbury enters as the No. 1 ranked team in the classification according to MaxPreps. 

Team leaders

CategoryAcademy at the LakesCanterbury
Batting averageMolly Blackwood .444Payton Cushman .438
RBIsMolly Blackwood 23Morgen Talley 36
Home runsMolly Blackwood, Juliana Ries 1Morgen Talley 12
ERAKatie Ferguson 2.62Mackenzie Bergstrom 2.18
StrikeoutsSydney Klein 59Morgen Talley 109

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Baseball

The PTP baseball players of the week

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The fans’ pick

P Trenton Hawks, Jr., River Ridge

The two-sport star’s right arm has been a big reason the Royal Knights made the playoffs in football and baseball this season. 

As a quarterback, Hawks threw for more than 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

In baseball, he became one of River Ridge’s most dependable starters on the mound.

Two weeks ago, Hawks threw a four-hit shutout with seven strikeouts in a 5A-6 district semifinal win over Freedom, then went 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored in a championship game win over Land O’ Lakes to take home the title.

Fans took notice. Hawks received more than 35 percent of the votes (218) to beat out Northeast’s Sean Melanson, who had more than 32 percent (203 votes). 

The PTP pick

P Sean Melanson, Sr., Northeast: Threw a one-hit shutout with seven strikeouts in a 5A-9 district semifinal win over Seminole that secured a playoff and eventually help the Vikings take home the title.   

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