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Sharks Fall to Hurricanes in District Final, Look Toward Future

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The Nature Coast Sharks (12-14) fell on the road to the Citrus Hurricanes (18-7) in Friday night’s 4A District 5 Final. The matchup would prove to be the last game of the season for the Columbia blue and black as the contest got away from the visitors. Though the game began on Thursday, a storm forced the game to pause with Citrus leading 3-2 in the third inning. Once play resumed the next evening, the Hurricanes would take the rain delayed district final by a dominant 13-3 margin in five innings.

Citrus’ Sophomore Leone Rotondo (one run, four RBIs, one homerun) and Junior Baylie Goodwin (two runs, two RBIs, one homerun) led the way as the Hurricanes jumped out to a three-run lead in the first frame and never looked back. Most of their squad contributed in some meaningful way as Senior Riley Tirrell scored two runs and two RBIs, and Junior Paisley Williamson added three runs and a double.

Despite the result, Sharks Seniors Ashlynn Sentner, Carlee Anselmo, and Zoe Garcia each still scored a run in Friday’s showdown. Senior Kenzie Eland logged a pair of hits, and Junior Hailey Keane and Sophomore Maddy DePetrillo both ran a batter in.

It was not the outcome or season Head Coach Jug Olmstead and company had hoped for as they experienced their first losing campaign in his 10 years at the helm. The head Shark felt there were a few reasons for this setback: lack of hitting, mental and physical lapses, and a competitive schedule.

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“I would have to say that our schedule was extremely competitive, and we battled through some adverse situations, but just could not quite turn that corner,” Coach Olmstead said.

The head coach is optimistic about the future of his team despite the disappointing season. A pair of his athletes (Eland and Sentner) batted over .300 and were named All-Conference players, while another pair of players received Gulf Coast Eight (GC8) Honorable Mentions. The head coach highlighted other bright spots earlier this week:

“Our two young ninth-grade pitchers showed promise,” said Coach Olmstead. “We saw outfielders McKenzie Eland and Ashlynn Sentner lead the way both offensively and defensively, respectively hitting .457 and .375, along with just one error in the field. Both were recognized as GC8 All-Conference players. Also, major contributors offensively were Caitlin Corrigan and Gianna Villari. They both received Honorable Mention on the GC8 team. Most improved player over all was Villari.”

With promising young freshman and sophomores poised to take on larger roles for the team in Columbia blue and a history of winning under Coach Olmstead, the Sharks look to bounce back next season.

Nature Coast’s Kam Ross throws a pitch toward the plate against Citrus in the District 4A-5 final on Tuesday at Citrus High. Photo by Chris Bernhardt Jr.
Nature Coast’s Izzy Miller throws a pitch against Citrus in the continuation of the District 4A-5 final on Friday at Citrus. Photo by Chris Bernhardt Jr.
Nature Coast’s Caitlin Corrigan takes a short lead off third base against Citrus in the continuation of the District 4A-5 final on Friday at Citrus. Photo by Chris Bernhardt Jr.

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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