Softball: Thursday’s region quarterfinal breakdown (7A-5A)

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.

Class 7A

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. 

Team leaders

CategoryNewsomePalm Harbor University
Batting average Karley Shelton .515Alexa Strickland .667
RBIs Karley Shelton 40Samantha Raynor 34
Home runs Karley Shelton 11Kendall Hyatt 2
ERAMaria Brooks 0.59Kendall Hyatt 1.62
StrikeoutsKelsey Winters 169Hannah 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. 

Team leaders

CategorySteinbrennerLakewood Ranch
Batting averageEmily Chiarella .522Cassidy McLellan .517
RBIsAshley Mantei 27Ella Coiner, Cassidy McLellan 31
Home runsMadison Frey 3Ella Coiner, Cassidy McLellan 6
ERAHaven Leggett 0.58Olivia Laney 0.63
StrikeoutsAshley Shroll 84Olivia Laney 125

Class 6A

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. 

Team leaders

Batting averageKendra Falby .654Jocelyn Wilkes .647
RBIsLarken Maseda 18Jocelyn Wilkes 39
Home runsLarken Maseda, Bella Sanchez 1Jocelyn Wilkes 7
ERAMikayla Hoschak 3.50Jocelyn Wilkes 3.21
StrikeoutsMikayla HoschakJocelyn 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. 

Team leaders

CategoryWiregrass RanchMitchell
Batting averageKylee Johnson .471Sydney Fowler .412
RBIsKylee Johnson 33Vanessa Neptune 23
Home runsKylee Johnson 6Kinnah Kriedler 3
ERAAva Daly 2.73Ashley Altman 1.88
StrikeoutsAbbey Vyas 86Sydney 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). 

Team leaders

Batting averageMaddie Droz .573Becka Mellor .500
RBIsE-Mani Bailey-Usma 31Kayleigh Roper 39
Home runsGeorgia Krohn 7Kayleigh Roper 12
ERAMaddie Droz 2.48Karsyn Rutherford 2.15
StrikeoutsMaddie Droz 82Karsyn 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. 

Team leaders

CategoryGeorge JenkinsDurant
Batting averagePayton Spears .426Shelby Allen .593
RBIsPayton Spears 18Emily Smith 29
Home runsOlivia Newman 6Bricelyn Bedenbaugh, Emily Smith 4
ERAPayton Spears 2.36Haleigh Thomas 1.95
StrikeoutsPayton Spears 60Haleigh 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. 

Team leaders

CategoryStrawberry CrestBartow
Batting averageRashelle Clark .439Katelynn Oxley .402
RBIsSydney Watson 24Morgan Grubb 25
Home runsHayley Lynch, Lauren Ray 2Morgan Grubb 5
ERAAlyssa Grimes 2.40Katelynn Oxley 0.75
StrikeoutsAlyssa Grimes 106Katelynn Oxley 281

Class 5A

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.   

Team leaders

Batting averageKathyria Garcia .549Gena Stutz .500
RBIsKathyria Garcia, Ariana Gonzalez 17Johnkiria Bland
Home runsKathyria Garcia 2Kassidy Pontbriant 3
ERAAriana Gonzalez 2.92Gena Stutz 0.59
StrikeoutsAriana Gonzalez 38Gena 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.

Team leaders

Batting averageCat Durden .432Alyssa Vallad .500
RBIsKelsey Kadlub 15Alyssa Vallad 30
Home runsKelsey Kablub 3Alyssa Vallad 8
ERALaci Carter 4.02Alyssa Vallad 2.07
StrikeoutsLaci Carter 24Alyssa 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. 

Team leaders

CategoryOsceolaRiver Ridge
Batting averageAddison Futch .500Brooke Blankenship .584
RBIsMariah Rivera 34Brooke Blankenship 31
Home runsMariah Rivera 9Brooke Blankenship 6
ERACoreya Quarterman 0.98Jordan Sheets 1.68
StrikeoutsMariah Rivera 69Victoria 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. 

Team leaders

CategoryLand O’ LakesSeminole
Batting averageNehanda Lewis .493Davia Schweitzer .362
RBIsNehanda Lewis 38Taylor Malz 16
Home runsNehanda Lewis, Hannah Purcell 3None
ERAMia Fields 1.83Mackenzie Duford 0.67
StrikeoutsMia Fields 49Mackenzie 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. 

Team leaders

CategoryHollinsNorth Fort Myers
Batting averageTess McGann .571Taylor Rosciti .513
RBIsMikayla Hayes 28Sydney Morris 34
Home runsApril Dominguez 2Kendall Wylie 6
ERAMadasyn Hensley 2.56Sydney Morris 2.05
StrikeoutsMadasyn Hensley 50Sydney Morris 84