Photography by Cheryl Clanton
With Nature Coast Technical High School’s 4-1 loss to Jacksonville Bolles in the Class 5A state semifinals, prep baseball finally concludes in Hernando County and caps one of the best seasons the county has seen in recent memory. The Sharks were able to ride the hot arm of pro prospect Jonathan Gates, who is surely going to be drafted by a Major League Baseball team this week in the 2018 MLB Draft. Hernando was able to have another tremendous season under Tim Sims, in which the Leopards finished second in Class 5A, District 7 behind Nature Coast. Springstead clinched a postseason spot in Class 6A and had another stellar season, despite coming up short against Dunnellon in the region semifinals. Central and Weeki Wachee showed progress throughout the 2018 campaign, with both teams having great promise for the 2019 season. We now go team by team and look back on the 2018 prep baseball campaign.
Central (13-13): The Bears ended up finishing fourth in Class 5A, District 7 and despite not reaching the postseason, Central saw plenty of improvement throughout the season. Central was able to defeat Hernando during the regular season, which showed signs that the Bears are on the right track moving forward.
Hernando (22-7): Tim Sims’ ball club completed what was another impressive season of baseball, as the Leopards finished second in Class 5A, District 7 behind Nature Coast Technical. The Leopards have plenty of talent coming back for the 2019 season, including Carson Lashley, who batted a team-high .489 with 44 hits. Hernando was solid on the base pads, stealing 75 bases this past year.
Nature Coast (26-5): No team in Hernando County had a better run through the regular season, districts and the playoffs than Nature Coast, whom reached the Class 5A state semifinals, before falling to Jacksonville Bolles. The Sharks will go into a little bit of a rebuilding mode after losing top pitcher Jonathan Gates to graduation. Nature Coast notched a very impressive postseason win over the always good Orlando Bishop Moore.
Springstead (18-11): The Eagles will be losing one of its top pitchers from 2018 in Kevin Tomas, who graduated this spring. Springstead will lean more upon the arm of senior Jack Jasiak, who was the other ace on the pitching staff. For the Eagles, they should be a contender once again in Class 6A, District 6 with Dunnellon and fellow Hernando County rival, Weeki Wachee.
Weeki Wachee (11-14): With notching 11 wins on the season, the Hornets were competitive with everyone they faced throughout the 2018 campaign, but they’ll be losing ace pitcher Dalton Mosser to graduation. Weeki Wachee should remain in contention, however, in 6A-6 with plenty of returning talent to the roster.