NEW PORT RICHEY- The first few games of the season for Nature Coast Technical’s varsity softball team haven’t been easy contests whatsoever.
With the Sharks having to face off against neighboring foes like Hernando, Crystal River and Inverness Citrus, Nature Coast has seen its fair share of good teams. Wednesday night at Rudy Snyder Field, the Sharks were able to get their bats all in action against a rebuilding New Port Richey Gulf.
The Sharks used big second and third innings en route to a 21-2 victory over the Buccaneers. With the win, Nature Coast improves its regular season record to 5-0, making the Sharks the last team in Hernando County with an undefeated record. Nature Coast faces Weeki Wachee Friday night before heading into next week’s slate of games. Picking up the win on the mound for Nature Coast was senior pitcher Alyssa Kelly.
For Nature Coast manager Jug Olmstead, he uses games like Wednesday night’s to get many of the starters time off and play more of his bench. With the Sharks aiming to win a district championship and get into the state playoffs, it’s about taking it one game at a time. The Leopard Slam is later this month and Olmstead mentioned the tournament being an important time for the team.
“The Leopard Slam is definitely a big deal for us,” Olmstead said. “We start off that tourney against a good East Bay team and then we play East Ridge, who is one of the top teams in the Class 7A classification. We are really going to need to be at the top of our game when we get to that tournament.”
The Sharks are in Class 4A, District 9 and though the season has just started, Nature Coast is already coming out of the pack as one of the top teams in the North Suncoast region. Always tough Hernando and Wesley Chapel pose as viable threats when it comes to being the No. 1 team in the district, but Olmstead started it’s a long season. Games like Wednesday night’s will come and go.
“A game like tonight’s is one that we can play a lot more of our kids,” Olmstead added. “It gives us an opportunity to fine tune some stuff. Our district isn’t one we look past by any means. Hernando is still very tough and Wesley Chapel has a very good squad. We are a long ways from district at this point. We just are taking everything day to day.”
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.