By Andy Villamarzo
Hernando Sun sports contributor
BROOKSVILLE- At this time last year, the debate on trying to finish the spring sports seasons for baseball and softball was wrapped up with unfortunate results. High school senior athletes were advised that they wouldn’t be able to finish the final season of their prep careers, which made for a very sour taste in everyone’s mouth. That included Nature Coast’s baseball team, which finished 2020 with a promising record of 7-3.
Welcome back to the present day and Nature Coast has gotten to play its full complement of games. The payoff was a trip to the Class 4A region final against Orlando Bishop Moore Wednesday night, with the Sharks coming away with a win. Now their ticket is punched to play in next week’s Class 4A state semifinal at CenturyLink Sports Complex’s Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.
Defeating Hernando 9-8 in the Class 4A, District 7 final was a good warmup prior to entering the playoffs. The Sharks were able to get by their east coast foes Satellite (8-6 win) and Rockledge (3-2 win) in the process of reaching the region final, where they defeated Orlando Bishop Moore (6-1).
Amongst Nature Coast’s top hitters in its lineup is shortstop/pitcher Zeth Rodriguez, who has a batting average of .342, 25 hits, 26 runs batted in, five doubles and six home runs. On the pitching end of things for the Sharks, the club’s top pitcher on the staff has been senior Justin Montanez. Montanez holds a record of 6-0, with an earned run average of 0.99.
The Sharks’ next hurdle is the state semifinal game against North Marion May 24, 4pm at CenturyLink Sports Complex’s Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. The Sharks have an overall record of 24-4 while North Marion’s record is 20-8. North Marion has a strong on-base percentage and batting average at 49% and .347 respectively. NCT slightly lags at 42% and .307 respectively.
Stats are reported from maxpreps.com. Julie Maglio contributed to this report.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo