Sports notebook: Springstead athletes sign early

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

On Monday, two Springstead seniors took advantage of the early signing period that ended on Wednesday to ink national letters of intent with their respective college choices.
For softball pitching ace Kama Woodall, the pick was Division I North Carolina State. Alondra Rodriguez, the volleyball team’s libero the past three seasons, will be attending Division II Rollins College in Winter Park.
Woodall transferred to Springstead last school year after leading St. Petersburg-Canterbury to back-to-back state titles in 2013-14, and to the Final Four in 2015.
In her first campaign with the Lady Eagles, she pitched them into the Elite Eight. She went 18-1 with a 0.76 earned run average, striking out 163 across 138 innings. She also hit .390 with 19 runs batted in.
Rodriguez said she mulled six different offers, including two from D-I programs, before opting to join the Tars. This past season, she recorded 34 aces. The three-year starter totaled 113 digs as a sophomore and 298 as a junior.
Playing in college was a thought that began percolating when she started playing in sixth grade, Rodriguez said. From seventh grade on she has honed her skills on the club level, and she thanked her club coach Stephen McBeath as well as her parents for helping her reach this moment.
“I just felt this was the perfect fit when I went for my visit. It’s not far from home but it’s far enough,” Rodriguez said. “The whole team was very welcoming. It’s a good group of girls that made me feel at home. I’m very excited to go.
“Just the atmosphere is exactly what I wanted. I wanted to pick a school where the class sizes were smaller. I want to major in biomedical science or biochemistry. I wanted smaller class sizes where they were more focused on learning than athletics.”
In Week 1 of the girls basketball regular season, Hernando Christian Academy picked up where it left off following last season’s run to the Elite Eight, starting out 3-0. Despite taking on larger schools, the Class 2A Lady Lions defeated 4A Lakeland-Santa Fe Catholic on Tuesday, 32-25, 3A St. Petersburg-Keswick Christian on Thursday, 46-34, and 4A Tampa-Cambridge Christian on Friday, 33-14.
Pacing HCA is senior Cayla Phillips averaging 13.7 points and an amazing 7.0 steals. Sophomore Milly Jackson is chipping in 10.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.7 steals per contest, while junior Shyann McElwain is pulling down 9.7 rebounds per game.
Hernando also began 3-0, with a 49-25 victory over Lecanto on Tuesday, a 51-32 win against Gulf on Thursday and a 58-35 triumph versus Nature Coast on Friday. Senior Ali Bronson has posted strong numbers, averaging 21 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.0 blocks, 2.7 assists and 2.0 blocks.
At Weeki Wachee, the Lady Hornets are 3-1 despite losing their opener on Monday at Bishop McLaughlin Catholic, 31-28. On Tuesday they edged Springstead, 57-56, downed Gulf on Wednesday, 47-35, and beat Central on Friday, 57-42.
Prior to that loss, the Lady Bears had beaten Seven Rivers Christian on Tuesday, 48-47, and Ocala-Trinity Catholic on Wednesday, 41-39. Springstead bested Hudson on Monday, 68-15, before falling to Weeki Wachee.
The Lady Hornets made some history in girls soccer on Friday, recording their first-ever win via mercy rule, thumping Zephyrhills, 10-0. Reilley Bain had three goals and three assists, while Marleen Ohr also scored three times. Jasmine Mendoza chipped in two goals, Lauren Mullen notched a goal and an assist, and Courtney Thomas scored once.
It had been a tough week otherwise for Weeki Wachee (4-5-1 overall, 3-2 3A-District 7), with a 7-4 loss to Pasco on Monday and a 2-1 defeat versus Springstead on Wednesday. Still, the Lady Hornets are the county’s closest team to the .500 mark, as typically stout Nature Coast and Springstead are both 2-6, and Central is off to a 1-4 start.
On the boys side, Weeki Wachee (2-1-1 overall, 2-1-1 3A-7) lost 3-1 to Pasco on Monday and played to a scoreless tie at Springstead on Wednesday. Against Zephyrhills on Friday, the Hornets won 4-0 behind goals by Matthew Armstrong, Kameron Benvenuto, Joseph Raguso and Karsyn Roberts. Bailey Hypes dished out three assists and Harry Flanagan added another. Jake Brooks had 10 saves in the shutout.
Nature Coast (2-2-1 overall, 1-2-1 3A-7) lost 4-1 at Wiregrass Ranch on Monday, and tied 2-2 at Wesley Chapel on Wednesday. The Sharks lost to Springstead on Friday, 1-0.
That capped a busy week for the Eagles (5-2-2 overall, 3-1-1 3A-7), who collected a 7-1 win over Hernando on Monday and a 2-1 triumph over Tampa Catholic on Tuesday. They did lose on Thursday to Fivay, 4-0.
Follow Chris Bernhardt Jr. on Twitter @cpbernhardtjr.