Hernando

Eustis bats heat up late, Hernando falls short of Final Four

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Hernando's Taliyah Dowdell takes a swing at the ball during an at-bat Friday night against Eustis. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

BROOKSVILLE – Hernando High’s softball team has spent the past few weeks proving it belonged among the elite squads in the area.
On Friday, the Lady Leopards found themselves in the Elite Eight, hosting Eustis in a Class 5A, Region 2 final at Ernie Chatman Field at Tom Varn Stadium.
After Hernando staved off the Lady Panthers, ranked second in the Miracle Sports state poll in 5A, through four scoreless innings, the visitors busted things open in the fifth and sixth, pulling away for a 6-0 victory.

Sharks gain regional redemption, advance to Sweet 16

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast's Zach Funkhouser hit a solo home run in the Sharks' 7-3 win over Lake Highland Prep. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Only one Hernando County prep baseball team survived Tuesday’s first round of regionals, and for Nature Coast it was also about gaining a measure of redemption.
The Sharks found themselves hosting Orlando-Lake Highland Prep in a Class 5A, Region 2 quarterfinal, just as they had last year when they allowed four runs in the seventh inning in a 5-3 loss.
This time around, Nature Coast took care of business. Even after giving up two runs in the top of the first, the Sharks rallied right back and pulled away for a 7-3 victory.

Hernando roughs up rival, heads to Elite Eight

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Hernando leadoff hitter Josey Sims gets a bunt down during Tuesday's regional semifinal against Nature Coast. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

BROOKSVILLE – Back on March 30, Hernando High’s softball team had dropped four straight the past two seasons to Nature Coast, and were three outs away from pushing that streak to five.
Then the Lady Leopards scored three times in the top of the seventh inning that night, rallying for a 3-2 victory, and everything changed. They followed that with a 4-0 win in the Class 5A, District 7 title game on the Lady Sharks’ home field on April 27.

Sports notebook: Eagles repeat with blowout win

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead's Joey Delgatto throws to the plate during Wednesday's 6A-6 semifinal versus Lecanto. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

It was no secret that Springstead’s baseball team entered the Class 6A, District 6 Tournament as the prohibitive favorite to repeat as champion.
But the Eagles certainly didn’t fall short of those expectations this week, recording two blowout wins to collect another first-place trophy.
“We just played real well,” Springstead head coach Shawn Laferty said. “Defensively, we made one error. That’s been our M.O. all year. We played good defense, had good pitching and hitting when we need to.

Bats heat up as Sharks take district title

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast's baseball team celebrates after the final out of Friday night's 5A-7 championship game. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast’s baseball team came into the Class 5A, District 7 Tournament seeded third behind county rivals Hernando and Central respectively, having gone 1-3 against those two in the regular season.
Furthermore, the Sharks opted to use ace lefty J.P. Gates in a first-round 12-1 win over Gulf on Tuesday, leaving him unavailable the remainder of the tournament.

County softball teams go 3-for-3 in region quarters

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead pitcher Kama Woodall, who threw a perfect game, readies for a pitch in the batter's box during Wednesday's regional quarterfinal. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

SPRING HILL – Three Hernando County prep softball entered regional play on Wednesday, and all three will be back in action for next Tuesday’s semifinals.
That’s the situation after Hernando, Nature Coast and Springstead all recorded quarterfinal wins to advance to the Sweet 16.
For the Lady Eagles, seeking their second straight trip to the Elite Eight after repeating as Class 6A, District 6 champions last week, it was another day at the office for senior pitcher Kama Woodall.

Sports notebook: Springstead rallies for district repeat

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead catcher Paige Pfent had the game-winning single in Thursday's 6A-6 final. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Suffice to say, Springstead’s softball team’s road to a repeat district championship hit a significant speed bump halfway through Thursday night’s Class 6A, District 6 final.
Host Crystal River had shown it could stand up to the once top-ranked Lady Eagles a few weeks earlier, holding on for a 2-1 win at Springstead’s home field on April 4.
This time around, the Lady Pirates built a 4-0 advantage through the top of the fourth, but couldn’t stave off the top seed, who rallied to tie it up twice and eventually pulled out a 7-6 victory in eight innings.

Hernando makes statement, knocks off Nature Coast for district title

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Hernando's Ali Shenefield delivers a pitch against Nature Coast in Thursday night's 5A-7 final. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

BROOKSVILLE – Over the past two seasons, much of the local prep softball discussion has centered around two programs, Springstead and Nature Coast.
After all, those two teams did win district titles and advance to the Elite Eight a year ago, and they’ve met in back-to-back Leopard Slam finals.
Quietly, though, Hernando has built a case for belonging in that same class, and on Thursday night on the Lady Sharks’ home field they cemented that claim, defeating the top-seeded Lady Sharks in the Class 5A, District 7 championship game, 4-0.

Sports notebook: Sharks double up on track district titles

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast senior Kaitlyn Pierce won the 400 meter (1:04.88), came in second in the triple jump (33-1) and placed third in the 200 (27.98) in Friday's district meet. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

District championships have become a tradition for the Nature Coast track and field team, and nothing changed on Friday at Anclote High.
Both the boys and girls defended their Class 2A, District 7 crowns, the Lady Sharks tallying 199 points to far outdistance second-place Weeki Wachee (108), while their male counterparts totaled 159, well ahead of Zephryhills with 116.

Sports notebook: Springstead softball ramps up competition

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead, led by pitcher Kama Woodall, took on two other ranked softball teams this past week. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

As a team with Final Four aspirations, Springstead softball can’t be accused by anyone of playing a soft schedule.
The Lady Eagles, ranked fourth in this week’s Miracle Sports state poll for Class 6A, took on the No. 1 team in 2A, Academy at the Lakes in Land O’ Lakes, on Monday and suffered a 4-0 loss.
After dusting 6A-District 6 foe Lecanto the next night, 12-2, behind home runs by Kayla Cruz, Paige Pfent and Kama Woodall, Springstead (19-3 overall, 8-2 6A-6) knocked off Belleview, which came into the week ranked fifth in 6A, 3-1 on Thursday night.