BROOKSVILLE- So many questions were posed prior to the start of high school sports starting up for the 2020-2021 academic year. They varied to the possibility of shortened seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as not being able to have a season take place whatsoever. In either case, nothing seemed ideal because no one had enough information on how to tackle everyday life with a pandemic going on. Yet, sports was something everyone wanted to continue somehow.
High school sports returned to Hernando County and it had plenty of great moments throughout the school year. The final weeks with baseball and softball may have been the most exciting though. Hernando’s softball team and Nature Coast’s baseball team were programs that made deep postseason runs that ended in the state semifinals round.
The Leopards were able to put on what almost was a state championship season, in which Hernando made an incredible run to the Class 4A state playoffs. Hernando, which finished with a regular season record of 26-5, was able to defeat Plantation American Heritage 9-8 in the state semifinal before losing 5-0 against Eustis in the Class 4A state championship game. Hernando’s season was one to remember though, with the Leopards making plenty of noise this past spring.
The Sharks had themselves a very successful season on the baseball diamond, with Nature Coast getting to make the trip down to Fort Myers to play in the Class 4A state semifinals before their run ended there. Nature Coast went an impressive 24-5 during the 2021 season and were able to pick off playoff victories over Satellite, Rockledge and Orlando Bishop Moore.
It would be the state semifinal where the Nature Coast would end up falling 4-1 against Citra North Marion. Though the Sharks would come away with winning the Class 4A, District 7 championship and Region 2 title, they ended up falling short. Brandon DeRespiris’ club was expected to be a very good squad, but to be just a step away from reaching the state championship game was a season to remember.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.