The softball playoffs continue with Thursday’s region quarterfinal games in Classes 7A-5A. Admission is $7. Here is the schedule with outlooks for each area game, as well as team leaders for each matchup.
Newsome (24-1) at Palm Harbor University (21-6), 4
The Wolves, ranked No. 4 in the classification, No. 6 overall in the state and No. 12 nationally by MaxPreps, had their perfect season with a loss to Lakewood Ranch in the 7A-12 district final. Now, the goal is to get a rematch in the region semifinals. To do that, Newsome first has to get past the Hurricanes, who have won 13 straight. Included in that total are victories over Plant (11-1) and Steinbrener last week to take home the 7A-11 title. Samantha Raynor went 3-for-4 with a triple and six RBIs against the Panthers and Hannah Harring allowed a combined three unearned runs and recorded six strikeouts during the tournament.
|Category||Newsome||Palm Harbor University|
|Batting average||Karley Shelton .515||Alexa Strickland .667|
|RBIs||Karley Shelton 40||Samantha Raynor 34|
|Home runs||Karley Shelton 11||Kendall Hyatt 2|
|ERA||Maria Brooks 0.59||Kendall Hyatt 1.62|
|Strikeouts||Kelsey Winters 169||Hannah Harring 91|
Steinbrenner (23-4) at Lakewood Ranch (25-2), 7
After falling to Palm Harbor University in the 7A-11 final, the Warriors now have one of the toughest tasks in the playoffs. They have to travel to face the Mustangs, who are ranked No. 1 in the classification and the state and No. 3 nationally by MaxPreps. The Warriors secured a playoff berth with a 4-0 win over Wharton in the district semifinals. Ashley Shroll threw a seven-hit shutout with three strikeouts and Madison Frey went 2-for-2 with a double against the Wildcats.
|Batting average||Emily Chiarella .522||Cassidy McLellan .517|
|RBIs||Ashley Mantei 27||Ella Coiner, Cassidy McLellan 31|
|Home runs||Madison Frey 3||Ella Coiner, Cassidy McLellan 6|
|ERA||Haven Leggett 0.58||Olivia Laney 0.63|
|Strikeouts||Ashley Shroll 84||Olivia Laney 125|
Sunlake (9-8) at Gaither (14-6), 7
After enduring a four-game losing streak late in the regular season, the Seahawks rebounded to win three of their last four, including an 8-1 victory over Sickles in the 6A-10 district semifinals to secure a postseason berth. Mikayla Hoschak threw a two-hitter with eight strikeouts on the mound and went 3-for-4 at the plate and Kendra Falby ended up 2-for-3 with a triple, two RBIs and three runs scored against the Gryphons. The Cowboys currently are on a six-game win streak that includes victories over Leto (15-0) in the semifinals and Wiregrass Ranch (6-1) in the final of the 6A-9 tournament. Jocelyn Wilkes threw a six-hitter, allowing one earned run and recording three strikeouts, on the mound and had a double, a homer and four RBIs at the plate against the Bulls in the district championship game.
|Batting average||Kendra Falby .654||Jocelyn Wilkes .647|
|RBIs||Larken Maseda 18||Jocelyn Wilkes 39|
|Home runs||Larken Maseda, Bella Sanchez 1||Jocelyn Wilkes 7|
|ERA||Mikayla Hoschak 3.50||Jocelyn Wilkes 3.21|
|Strikeouts||Mikayla Hoschak||Jocelyn Wilkes 89|
Wiregrass Ranch (14-13) at Mitchell (19-6), 7
This is a rematch from a game the Mustangs won 7-4 two months ago. Since that loss, the Bulls have gone 6-2, including a 16-0 victory over Tampa Bay Tech in the 6A-9 district semifinals to get in the playoffs. Kylee Johnson went 4-for-4 with a homer and six RBIs against the Titans. To reach the postseason, the Mustangs had to rally from a three-run deficit in the seventh inning to beat East Lake 8-7. The momentum carried over to the final with Mitchell getting past rival Sunlake 6-1 to take the 6A-10 district title. Vanessa Neptune went a combined 5-for-7 with a double, a homer, six RBIs and five runs scored during the tournament.
|Batting average||Kylee Johnson .471||Sydney Fowler .412|
|RBIs||Kylee Johnson 33||Vanessa Neptune 23|
|Home runs||Kylee Johnson 6||Kinnah Kriedler 3|
|ERA||Ava Daly 2.73||Ashley Altman 1.88|
|Strikeouts||Abbey Vyas 86||Sydney Fowler 93|
Bloomingdale (18-7) at Venice (22-4), 7
The Bulls had their six-game win streak snapped with a 2-1, eight-inning loss to Sarasota in the 6A-11 district final. Still, despite that setback, Bloomingdale got into the playoffs by beating Braden River 5-1 in the semifinals. Mikayla Cable had two doubles and an RBI against the Pirates. For the past month, the Indians have been among the most dominant teams in the state, outscoring foes by a combined 98-24 in their last 10 games. In the 6A-12 tournament, Venice cruised to the title with wins over Naples Gulf Coast (9-1) and Fort Myers Riverdale (9-0).
|Batting average||Maddie Droz .573||Becka Mellor .500|
|RBIs||E-Mani Bailey-Usma 31||Kayleigh Roper 39|
|Home runs||Georgia Krohn 7||Kayleigh Roper 12|
|ERA||Maddie Droz 2.48||Karsyn Rutherford 2.15|
|Strikeouts||Maddie Droz 82||Karsyn Rutherford 60|
Lakeland George Jenkins (11-13) at Durant (16-2), 7
The Eagles, who started the season 4-9, have turned things around, winning seven of their last 11. The 3-2 victory over Kissimmee Liberty in the 6A-6 district semifinals clinched a spot in the playoffs. The Cougars, ranked ninth in the classification by MaxPreps, have won eight straight, including victories over Plant City (15-0) in the semifinals and Strawberry Crest (13-9) in the final of the 6A-5 tournament to take the title. Shelby Allen went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored against the Raiders and Emily Smith hit a grand slam against the Chargers.
|Batting average||Payton Spears .426||Shelby Allen .593|
|RBIs||Payton Spears 18||Emily Smith 29|
|Home runs||Olivia Newman 6||Bricelyn Bedenbaugh, Emily Smith 4|
|ERA||Payton Spears 2.36||Haleigh Thomas 1.95|
|Strikeouts||Payton Spears 60||Haleigh Thomas 81|
Strawberry Crest (15-6) at Bartow (24-3), 7
The Chargers, the district runnerup in 6A-5, travel to take on the Yellow Jackets, who won the 6A-6 district tournament and are ranked No. 2 in the classification and No. 4 in the state by MaxPreps. Strawberry Crest made the playoffs thanks to its 15-0 semifinal win over Lakeland. Sydney Watson had two doubles, four RBIs and three runs scored against the Dreadnaughts.
|Batting average||Rashelle Clark .439||Katelynn Oxley .402|
|RBIs||Sydney Watson 24||Morgan Grubb 25|
|Home runs||Hayley Lynch, Lauren Ray 2||Morgan Grubb 5|
|ERA||Alyssa Grimes 2.40||Katelynn Oxley 0.75|
|Strikeouts||Alyssa Grimes 106||Katelynn Oxley 281|
Jefferson (14-7) at Auburndale (20-3), 7
The Dragons, the 5A-10 district runnerup, have won eight of their last 10. The biggest victory came against Spoto (13-4) in the semifinals to secure a playoff spot. Iriana Diaz had a double, a triple, three RBIs and two runs scored against the Spartans. Now comes the difficult part. Jefferson travels to face the Bloodhounds, the 5A-9 district champions who are the top-ranked team in classification according to MaxPreps.
|Batting average||Kathyria Garcia .549||Gena Stutz .500|
|RBIs||Kathyria Garcia, Ariana Gonzalez 17||Johnkiria Bland|
|Home runs||Kathyria Garcia 2||Kassidy Pontbriant 3|
|ERA||Ariana Gonzalez 2.92||Gena Stutz 0.59|
|Strikeouts||Ariana Gonzalez 38||Gena Stutz 127|
Pasco (6-8) at Sumner (14-6), 7
Do not take the Pirates lightly. Sure, Pasco has a losing record, but it has outscored foes by 10 runs this season (85-75) and has wins against playoff-bound Land O’ Lakes and Wesley Chapel. The Pirates made the postseason with their 7-0 win over Freedom in the 5A-9 semifinals. Cat Durden went 4-for-5 with a double and a run scored against the Patriots. There were no growing pains this season for the first-year Stingrays. The new program is on a seven-game win streak and beat Hillsborough 12-2 in the semifinals and Jefferson 10-8 in the final to take home the 5A-10 district title in its debut season. Alyssa Vallad led Sumner by recording a combined 18 strikeouts on the mound and went 5-for-6 with two homers, a triple, 10 RBIs and six runs scored during the tournament.
|Batting average||Cat Durden .432||Alyssa Vallad .500|
|RBIs||Kelsey Kadlub 15||Alyssa Vallad 30|
|Home runs||Kelsey Kablub 3||Alyssa Vallad 8|
|ERA||Laci Carter 4.02||Alyssa Vallad 2.07|
|Strikeouts||Laci Carter 24||Alyssa Vallad 120|
Osceola (17-8) at River Ridge (21-5), 7
After winning 12 straight, the Warriors have 2-3 down the stretch. They beat Countryside 12-4 in the 5A-6 district semifinals to get into the playoffs. Hailey Copechal and Jordyn Pentz each had three hits and Addison Futch had four against the Cougars. After dropping their regular season finale to hernando, the Royal Knights rebounded to beat Springstead 16-0 in the semifinals and Land O’ Lakes 2-1 in nine innings to take home the 5A-5 district title. Katey Hauschen hit a two-run walk-off blast, the first homer of her high school in the bottom of the ninth to beat the rival Gators in the championship game.
|Batting average||Addison Futch .500||Brooke Blankenship .584|
|RBIs||Mariah Rivera 34||Brooke Blankenship 31|
|Home runs||Mariah Rivera 9||Brooke Blankenship 6|
|ERA||Coreya Quarterman 0.98||Jordan Sheets 1.68|
|Strikeouts||Mariah Rivera 69||Victoria Nearing 80|
Land O’ Lakes (20-7) at Seminole (14-3), 7
Both teams are ranked among the top seven in the classification by MaxPreps (the Gators are No. 3 and the Warhawks are No. 7). Land O’ Lakes beat Lecanto 14-0 in the 5A-5 district semifinals before falling to rival River Ridge in nine innings in the championship game. Kiersten Stevens came up big against the Panthers, going 4-for-4 with a double, a homer and four RBIs. The Warhawks won the 5A-6 district title with shutouts over Clearwater (5-0) and Osceola (6-0). Mackenzie Duford allowed a combined two hits while striking out 15 in both games.
|Category||Land O’ Lakes||Seminole|
|Batting average||Nehanda Lewis .493||Davia Schweitzer .362|
|RBIs||Nehanda Lewis 38||Taylor Malz 16|
|Home runs||Nehanda Lewis, Hannah Purcell 3||None|
|ERA||Mia Fields 1.83||Mackenzie Duford 0.67|
|Strikeouts||Mia Fields 49||Mackenzie Duford 134|
Hollins (11-9) at North Fort Myers (22-9), 7
The Royals are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008 as the 5A-7 district runnerup thanks to a 12-3 win over St. Petersburg in the semifinals. April Dominguez had a double and a homer to go along with three RBIs and three runs scored against the Green Devils. The 5A-8 district champion Red Knights enter the playoffs on a four-game win streak.
|Category||Hollins||North Fort Myers|
|Batting average||Tess McGann .571||Taylor Rosciti .513|
|RBIs||Mikayla Hayes 28||Sydney Morris 34|
|Home runs||April Dominguez 2||Kendall Wylie 6|
|ERA||Madasyn Hensley 2.56||Sydney Morris 2.05|
|Strikeouts||Madasyn Hensley 50||Sydney Morris 84|