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PDQ girls athlete of the week

The PTP softball players of the week

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The fans’ pick

C/2B/OF Emma Nixon, Jr., Land O’ Lakes

Entering the Class 5A state tournament, Emma Nixon was fifth on the team in hitting with a .295 average. 

In the games that mattered most, she became one of the Gators’ most consistent performers on offense.

She ended up a combined 3-for-6 with a double and six RBIs in a win over Pace in the state semifinals and a loss to Fort Myers in the state final for the 5A runnerup Gators. 

Fans took notice. Nixon received more than 48 percent of the votes (1,497) to beat out Hernando’s Savannah Ellis, who had 36 percent (1,105).

The PTP picks

1B Alayah Pedersen, So., Canterbury

She went a combined 3-for-5 with a double, a homer and three RBIs in wins over Fort Lauderdale Westminster Academy in the state semifinals and Jacksonville University Christian in the state final to help the Crusaders take home the Class 2A title.  

P/3B/2B Belle Sardja, Sr., Academy of the Holy Names

On the mound, she was effective, allowing a combined seven runs against Miami Westminster Christian in the state semifinal and against Windermere Prep in the final. Sardja also was solid at the plate, going a combined 4-for-8 with three RBIs and producing the winning hit in the title game for the 3A champion Jaguars.  

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The PTP softball players of the week

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The fans’ pick

INF Sydney Fowler, Jr, Mitchell

A starter since arriving at Mitchell two years ago, Sydney Fowler has made steady improvement, especially as a hitter. 

The junior’s average has increased each season, from .322 as a freshman to a team-leading .432 this season. She also took on even more of a workload as a pitcher, throwing 107.2 innings this season, more than the rest of the staff combined. 

Two weeks ago, Fowler had perhaps her best performance of the season when it mattered most. 

She threw a complete-game shutout and hit a two-run homer in a win over Venice to lead the Mustangs to their first 6A state semifinal appearance. 

Fans were impressed. Fowler finished with 50 percent of the votes (1,336) to beat out Hernando’s Olivia Townsend, who had 45 percent (1,203). 

The PTP pick

1B/P Olivia Townsend, Sr., Hernando

A four-year member on varsity, Olivia Townsend took on the leadership role this season. 

The veteran hit for average — and power. She finished fourth on the team in batting average  at .446, led in homers by tying her career-best with six and tied for the lead in RBIs with 39.this season. 

That’s not all. Townsend was a dependable starter on the mound, too. She finished second in wins with seven and in strikeouts with 45. 

Two weeks ago, Townsend played a pivotal role in helping the Leopards make their second straight state semifinal appearance. The senior finished a combined 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs in wins over Wesley Chapel in the Class 4A region semifinals and Lake Region in the region final. 

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The PTP softball players of the week

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The fans’ pick

C/OF Katy Bradbourne, Jr., Newsome

The three-year starter has been a consistent hitter and dependable fielder throughout her high school career. 

Bradbourne’s batting average hovers around .400 every season.  In the field, she has yet to make an error. 

This season was among her best. 

She hit .427 with 17 RBIs and three doubles. 

Two weeks ago, Bradbourne went 3-for-4 with a homer and two runs scored in a 7A region quarterfinal win over a Palm Harbor University team that had won 13 straight.

Fans were impressed. Bradbourne received 50 percent of the votes to beat out Calvary Christian’s Malia Connelly, who had more 40 percent (2,023 votes). 

The PTP picks

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

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. 

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The PTP softball players of the week

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The fans’ pick

P/1B Hannah Harring, Jr., Palm Harbor University

Entering the postseason, Palm Harbor University was one of the hottest teams in the area. After all, the Hurricanes had won 13 straight. 

That streak was due in part to who PHU had on the mound. 

Hannah Harring took over as the team’s ace. She was efficient in keeping hitters at bay — and runs off the scoreboard.

Her biggest impact came during the Class 7A, District 11 tournament two weeks ago. She allowed a combined three unearned runs and recorded six strikeouts to help the Hurricanes beat Plant and Steinbrenner for the title.  

Fans were impressed. Harring received more than 34 percent of the votes (1,326) to beat out Sumner’s Alyssa Vallad, who had 26 percent (997 votes). 

The PTP picks

P/CF Alyssa Vallad, So., Sumner: At the 5A-10 tournament, Vallad recorded a combined 18 strikeouts on the mound and went 5-for-6 with two homers, a triple, 10 RBIs and six runs scored in wins over Blake and Hillsborough to help the first-year Stingrays take home the district title.  

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