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Softball: Wednesday’s region quarterfinal breakdown (4A-2A)

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The softball playoffs start Wednesday with region quarterfinal games in Classes 2A-4A. Admission is $7. Here is the schedule with outlooks for each area game, as well as team leaders for each matchup.

Class 4A

Tarpon Springs (6-14) at Hernando (22-4), 7

The Spongers, the 4A-10 runnerup, are led by Phoebe Howard, who ranks first in the area and seventh in the state in strikeouts with 230. The Leopards, winners of four straight, beat Weeki Wachee and Wesley Chapel by a combined 24-0 to take the 4A-9 district title. Ava Braswell threw a pair of shutouts, allowing a combined three hits and recording 14 strikeouts during the tournament. 

Team leaders

CategoryTarpon SpringsHernando
Batting averagePaige Howard .340Solaris Genberg .485
RBIsJade Borynski 11Olivia Townsend 35
Home runsJade Borynski 1Olivia Townsend 5
ERAPaige Howard 2.43Savannah Ellis 1.21
StrikeoutsPaige Howard 230Ava Braswell 51

Wesley Chapel (12-13) at Dunedin (17-9), 7

The Wildcats secured a playoff berth with a 12-8 eight-inning win over Nature Coast in the 4A-9 district semifinals. Ashley Garrison went 2-for-2 with a double and five RBIs and Kadence Means was 2-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs. The Falcons, the 4A-10 champions, rebounded from a 1-3 stretch late in the regular season to win three straight, including victories over Anclote (16-0) in the semifinals and Tarpon Springs (4-1) in the final of the district tournament. Gianna Ondrey threw three perfect innings and recorded four strikeouts on the mound and went 3-for-3 with three RBIs against the Sharks. Hannah Chichester went 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored in a win over the Spongers. 

Team leaders

CategoryWesley ChapelDunedin
Batting average Ashley Garrison .462Jaclyn Ellison .500
RBIsAshley Garrison 26Kendall Rubel 20
Home runs Ashley Garrison 7Mariah Gradzki 6
ERAGabriella Gonzalez-Villages 4.02Makayla Oster 2.41
Strikeouts Makenna Rice 35Gianna Ondrey 52

Lake Wales (12-15) at Robinson (22-4), 7

The Highlanders made the playoffs as the 4A-12 runnerup. The Knights, the 4A-11 champions, have won four straight and 11 of their last 12. The lone loss in that span came against Doral Academy, the top-ranked team in 6A, in the final of the Longshore Tournament. Robinson was dominant in its district tournament, beating Bradenton Bayshore and Chamberlain by a combined 25-0. Jordan Stephens was 2-for-3 with a triple, three RBIs and three runs scored against the Bruins. Riley Onisawa had the Knights’ only extra-base hit, a double, against the Chiefs. 

Team leaders

CategoryLake WalesRobinson
Batting average Cameron Dicks .488Jordan Stephens .588
RBIs Cameron Dicks 25Destiny DeHoyos 42
Home runs Zamya McBurrows, Sydnie Whitaker 3Destiny DeHoyos 10
ERACameron Dicks 2.25Olivia Van Zandt 2.47
StrikeoutsLexi Thomas 76Olivia Van Zandt 62

Chamberlain (4-13) at Lake Region (16-11), 7

The Chiefs made the playoffs as the 4A-11 runnerup thanks to an 18-4 win over Middleton in the district semifinals. Keishliany Madrid drove in four runs against the Tigers. After going 4-8 down the stretch in the regular season, the Thunder won the games that mattered most, beating Sebring and Lake Wales to take the 4A-12 title.

Team leaders

CategoryChamberlainLake Region
Batting averageDestiny Breton .372Raelyn Roland .420
RBIsSelina Ramos 23Kaley Fail 19
Home runsSelina Ramos 3Raelyn Roland 3
ERAJanel Larrieux 5.81Alex Wright 1.58
StrikeoutsJanel Larrieux 27Alex Wright 94

Class 3A

Frostproof (12-6) at Cypress Creek (15-5), 7

The Bulldogs advanced as the 3A-10 district runnerup after beating Lake Placid 8-5 in the semifinals. The Coyotes rebounded from a two-game losing streak to close to the regular season to beat Brooks DeBartolo (15-0) in the semifinals and Berkeley Prep (6-5) in the final of the district tournament to take the title. Alyson Gehrmann threw a two-hit shutout with three strikeouts against the Phoenix. Trae Diaz went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs against the Buccaneers. 

Team leaders

CategoryFrostproofCypress Creek
Batting averageBelle Mancillas .455Mandy Schwartz .543
RBIs Belle Mancillas 13Mandy Schwartz 25
Home runs Jordan Brantley, Casey Whittington 2Mandy Schwartz 11
ERABelle Mancillas 0.85Haley Vazquez 1.22
StrikeoutsBelle Mancillas 105Haley Vazquez 149

Berkeley Prep (14-9) at Lakeland McKeel Academy (18-7), 4

This is a rematch from a game the Wildcats won 13-2 last month. After starting the season 7-0, the Buccaneers went 7-9 the rest of the way. Still, Berkeley Prep secured a playoff spot with a 17-2 win over Tampa Catholic in the 3A-9 semifinals. Cassidy Verville had a homer and five RBIs and Quincy Combs went 3-for-4 with two runs scored against the Crusaders. McKeel Academy, the 3A-10 champion, is ranked No. 8 in the classification by MaxPreps. 

Team leaders

CategoryBerkeley PrepMcKeel Academy
Batting averageHannah Church .548Charli Warren .557
RBIs Hannah Church, Gracie Murphy 21Kyndal Cornelius 41
Home runsHannah Church 10Kerissa Howell 5
ERAJulia Diecidue 3.30Annalyse Torres 3.34
StrikeoutsGracie Murphy 43Skylar Hodges 116

Parrish (13-10) at Academy of the Holy Names (14-5), 7

The Bulls beat Lemon Bay in the 3A-12 semifinals to reach the playoffs. The Jaguars won their first district title since 2016 thanks to a dramatic 4-3 win over Calvary Christian in the 3A-11 title game. Chase Cordoves hit a sacrifice fly to bring home Rachael Petrarca for the walk-off, winning run. In the semifinals, Academy of the Holy Names beat Clearwater Central Catholic 19-5. Cordoves was 3-for-3 with a triple, four RBIs and three runs scored against the Marauders. 

Team leaders

CategoryParrishAcademy of the Holy Names
Batting averageJulia Girk .500Rachael Petrarca .492
RBIsAlex Call 19Camryn Feast 18
Home runsAlex Call, Julia Girk 2Rachael Petrarca 2
ERAElla Torres 3.23Keala Hollenkamp 1.47
StrikeoutsElla Torres 51Annabelle Sardja 68

Calvary Christian (20-5) at Fort Myers Bishop Verot (21-3), 7

The Warriors had their four-game win streak snapped with a loss to Academy of the Holy Names in the 3A-11 final. Calvary Christian got the title game by beating Sarasota Cardinal Mooney 19-0 in the semifinals to secure a playoff spot. Malia Connelly threw 4 ⅔ scoreless innings, allowing one hit while striking out four, against the Cougars. The Vikings, the 3A-12 champions, are ranked 10th in the classification by MaxPreps. 

Team leaders

CategoryCalvary ChristianBishop Verot
Batting averageLeah Jarnac .672Lauren Mills .514
RBIsLeah Jarnac 37Victoria Ash, Audrey Mills 24
Home runsLeah Jarnac 5Lillie Layne 3
ERA Malia Connelly 2.27Victoria Ash 1.25
StrikeoutsMalia Connelly 58Victoria Ash 193

Class 2A

Merritt Island Christian (10-8) at Seffner Christian (16-6), 5

The Cougars qualified after beating Covenant Christian 16-1 in the 2A-7 semifinals. The Crusaders, meanwhile, cruised to the 2A-8 district title, beating Foundation Christian and Lakeland Christian by a combined 29-0. Shannon Kendall struck out all nine batters she faced against the Panthers. Amber Rodriguez went 4-for-4 with two doubles and five RBIs against the Vikings. 

Team leaders

CategoryMerritt Island ChristianSeffner Christian
Batting averageTori Colvard .429Anna Burnside .500
RBIsKendall Delaney 20Amber Rodriguez 25
Home runsTori Colvard, Shae Janke 1Shannon Kendall 2
ERASydney Toukonen 6.64Shannon Kendall 3.19
StrikeoutsSydney Toukonen 119Shannon Kendall 106

Shorecrest (8-6) at Academy at the Lakes (16-4), 6

The Chargers got past Indian Rocks Christian 2-1 in the 2A-10 district semifinals to make the playoffs. The Wildcats, who won consecutive state titles in 2017-18, took the 2A-9 district title with a 14-1 win over Hernando Christian in the semifinals and a 3-1 victory over Seven Rivers Christian in the final. Juliana Riles went a combined 6-for-8 with a double, four RBIs and three runs scored during the tournament. 

Team leaders

CategoryShorecrestAcademy at the Lakes
Batting averageN/AMolly Blackwood .467
RBIsN/AMolly Blackwood 23
Home runsN/AMolly Blackwood, Juliana Riles 1
ERAN/AKatie Ferguson 2.85
StrikeoutsN/ASydney Klein 57

Seven Rivers Christian (13-5) at Canterbury (18-9), 6

The Warriors beat Bishop McLaughlin 10-0 in the 2A-9 semifinals to qualify for the postseason. The Crusaders, ranked No. 1 in the classification by MaxPreps, are poised for a state title run. They were dominant in the 2A-10 tournament, beating St. Petersburg Catholic and Shorecrest by a combined 28-2 for the title. Alayah Pederson had two homers and six RBIs against the Barons. Mackenzie Bergstrom threw three perfect innings and recorded seven strikeouts against the Chargers. 

Team leaders

CategorySeven Rivers ChristianCanterbury
Batting averageMelody Byers .564Payton Cushman .434
RBIsVictoria Miterko 23Morgen Talley 35
Home runsVictoria Miterko 4Morgen Talley 12
ERAJoy Sullivan 2.19Mackenzie Bergstrom 2.32
StrikeoutsLily Ornelas 60Morgen Talley 104

General

FHSAA releases softball class and district assignments

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The Florida High School Athletic Association released the classifications, districts and regions for softball this coming season. The assignments are based on student enrollment numbers from October 2020. This is a one-year cycle that the FHSAA board of directors voted on earlier this year. There likely will be a two-year cycle starting with the 2022-23 calendar year. Below is the list for area teams. For the full  boys softball list click here.

Class 7A, District 6

Durant

Newsome

Plant City

Riverview

Class 7A, District 7

Alonso

East Lake

Steinbrenner

Palm Harbor University

Plant

Class 6A, District 5

Gaither

Land O’ Lakes

Largo

Leto

Mitchell

Sickles

Class 6A, District 6

Armwood

Strawberry Crest

Tampa Bay Tech

Wharton

Wiregrass Ranch

Class 6A, District 7

Bloomingdale

Bradenton Manatee

Lennard

Palmetto

Class 5A, District 5

Fivay

Lecanto

River Ridge

Springstead

Sunlake

Class 5A, District 6

Auburndale

Groveland South Lake

Lakeland Kathleen

Pasco

Class 5A, District 9

Blake

Freedom

Hillsborough

Jefferson

King

Class 5A, District 10

Countryside

Osceola

Pinellas Park

Seminole

Class 5A, District 11

Boca Ciega

Hollins

Northeast

St. Petersburg

Class 5A, District 12

Braden River

Bradenton Southeast

Brandon

East Bay

Spoto

Class 4A, District 9

Cypress Creek

Hudson

Nature Coast

Wesley Chapel

Zephyrhills

Class 4A, District 10

Anclote

Clearwater

Dunedin

Gulf 

Tarpon Springs

Class 4A, District 11

Chamberlain

Lake Region

Middleton

Mulberry

Robinson

Class 3A, District 6

Central

Hernando

South Sumter

Weeki Wachee

Class 3A, District 9

Academy of the Holy Names

Berkeley Prep

Brooks DeBartolo

Lakeland McKeel

Tampa Catholic

Class 3A, District 11

Calvary Christian

Clearwater Central Catholic

Lakewood

Parrish

Sarasota Cardinal Mooney

Class 2A, District 6

Bishop McLaughlin

Hernando Christian

Mount Dora Christian

Ocala Trinity Catholic

Seven Rivers Christian

Class 2A, District 9

Academy at the Lakes

Cambridge Christian

Carrollwood Day

Foundation Christian

Lakeside Christian

Seffner Christian

Class 2A, District 10

Admiral Farragut

Canterbury

Indian Rocks Christian

Northside Christian

Shorecrest

St. Petersburg Catholic

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General

Former Largo and Illinois standout Bobby Roundtree dies

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Bobby Roundtree, the former Largo High and Illinois standout defensive lineman who became an inspiration for many by vowing to walk again after suffering a spinal cord injury, died Friday afternoon, the family confirmed. He was 23. 

No other details were provided. 

A candlelight vigil will be held Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Ridgecrest YMCA. Those in attendance are encouraged to wear their 97Strong apparel.

Roundtree’s death came two weeks after he received the Bruce Capel Award for Courage, an honor given annually by the Illinois football program. 

Less than 24 hours ago before he passed, Roundtree posted a message on his Twitter page.

More than two years ago, Rountree was in a hospital bed, the result of a swimming accident near the docks off John’s Pass that required spinal cord surgery. It left him in a wheelchair. 

Before the accident, the goals were all related to football. A former two-sport star, Roundtree developed into a ferocious pass-rusher, first at Largo, then at Illinois. As a sophomore in 2018, he won the Dick Butkus Outstanding Defensive Player award after leading the Illini in tackles for loss (12.5), sacks (7.5) and pass breakups (7). His play made him a viable NFL draft pick.

Photos courtesy of Illinois Athletics

Since then, the ambitions have been different. 

Roundtree wanted to be independent. He wanted to travel. He wanted to coach, maybe even start his own rehabilitation center. 

Most of all, he wanted to walk again. 

“I just want to show everybody that anything’s possible,” Roundtree recently said last year in his first interview (via Zoom) with reporters since the accident. “You can be on top of the world and something happens, things might not go as planned, but there’s something out there for everybody.

“This injury isn’t going to overcome me. I’m going to beat this and be successful.”

After the accident, once the surgery was over, Roundtree woke up to machines beeping in every corner of the room. His mother, Jacqueline Hearns, kept saying he was special, that he was beating the odds. 

Friends and teammates were there, too, including former East Lake standout Jake Hansen, now a starting linebacker with the Illini. 

The coaching staff also came to the Tampa Bay area to be by Roundtree’s side. Illinois head coach Lovie Smith practically lived at the hospital, even while preparing for the 2019 season. 

The bond between the player and coach has always been strong. After all, Roundtree was one of the marquee names in Smith’s first recruiting classes. 

“Everything that Lovie said during the recruiting process, about being a family, he stuck by,” Packers coach Marcus Paschal said last year. “You could see it during Bobby’s injury and hospital stay. I don’t know of too many other college coaches who would have done what he did. That was big.”

In June of 2019, Rountree was transported to a rehabilitation center in Chicago. He had lost 70 pounds. He could barely raise his right hand, much less do push ups, after the surgery. 

Roundtree ignored conservative prescriptions for recovery, continuingly defying odds. Before long, he was manually pushing himself in a wheelchair. His triceps muscles were developing.

None of this came as a surprise to Jeremy Busch, the head athletic trainer for Illinois football. 

“After this injury you watched a person that eventually was at the worst point in his life, and yet he doesn’t acknowledge that to where it beats him, but he acknowledges it to motivate him,” Busch said last year of Roundtree. “He’s truly your idea of hope and inspiration on a daily basis. He’s gone from the simplest of struggles to absolutely overcoming everything that you put in front of him.”

Roundtree also was determined not to stay in football exile. He kept in contact with teammates. The coaching staff included him in meetings, virtually. 

The grit Roundtree showed through the grueling stages gave the Illini inspiration. A sign was displayed on the top of a tunnel that the players would touch before heading out to Memorial Stadium. It read: 97 Strong (referring to Roundtree’s number).

Illinois became the feel-good team of college football in 2019. The wins kept coming, often in dramatic ways. 

A field goal as time expired was the difference when the Illini handed the Badgers, ranked No. 6 at the time, their first loss in October of last season. It was the Illini’s first win over a ranked opponent since 2011. Afterward, Illinois players recorded videos of their celebration and sent them to Roundtree.

Three weeks later, the Illini rallied from a 21-point third quarter deficit to beat Michigan State 37-34. 

“I would do anything for the kid,” Hansen said last year of Roundtree. “He’s been a huge inspiration.”

Roundtree attended the 2019 regular season finale, his first game at Memorial Stadium since the injury. He led the team in a pregame prayer. 

And Roundtree remained part of the team. His locker was untouched. 

“Having the team I have now I wouldn’t trade them for anything,” Roundtree said last year. “They’ve been very supportive. They know I’m going to work. I know they’re going to work. We’ve got each other’s backs.”

The Illini faithful have shown financial support, too, pledging money to help offset some of Roundtree’s medical expenses. 

“With everybody so behind me and pushing me, that makes me want to go harder,” Roundtree said last year. “The support of everybody fundraising and everybody donating that means a lot having that support. I don’t have a million dollars to help me through this all. People are giving their last pennies to help me out. That’s just a lot of love right there, and I appreciate everybody for that.”

Roundtree spent the past year at home in Largo rehabilitating. He kept posting video messages of his progress. He bench pressed. He did core work. He rolled on to his side, even tried to stand up with the aid of athletic trainers.  

The final steps Roundtree wanted to take were on his own. 

“When somebody tells me I can’t do something I’m going to prove them wrong and show that I’ll be able to do it,” Roundtree said last year. “It might take me a couple of tries, but I’m going to do it.

“I want to show everybody that anything is possible, no matter the situation.”

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College Football

Lakewood’s Amari Niblack commits to Alabama

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Lakewood’s Amari Niblack had offers from 15 schools entering this week, including Florida, Florida State, Georgia and LSU. 

Then Niblack went to a camp at Alabama and picked up an offer from the Crimson Tide. 

That was all the three-star prospect needed to make up his mind. 

On Thursday, Niblack announced on social media that he committed to Alabama. 

A 6-foot-4 pass catching target, Niblack can play receiver or tight end. This past season, he had seven receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns according to the stats listed on MaxPreps. 

This is the second straight season Alabama has landed an area receiver and the third time in the past five seasons the Crimson Tide has picked a local skill player.

Agiye Hall, who starred at Armwood and Bloomingdale, was part of the 2021 class. He was an early enrollee and has already made an impact with several highlight-worthy catches in the spring game. 

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