Jody Moore turned 40 years old last week. The Canterbury School of Florida coach knew just what she wanted for a birthday present: another state softball title.
The Crusaders delivered, beating two-time defending champion Aucilla Christian 2-1 in nine innings in the Class 2A championship game at Historic Dodgertown. The title was Canterbury's fourth overall, which set a bay area record....
VERO BEACH — For the past two seasons, Winter Garden West Orange's Lauren Mathis has established herself as a fearless competitor who thrives on the pressure of May softball by delivering pinpoint pitches in critical moments.
The Georgia signee led the Warriors (28-3) to a state title last season with a four-hit, 15-strikeout performance against Alonso in the championship game.
Her power and precision were the biggest things Palm Harbor University (30-3) had to worry about in Saturday's Class 9A title game at Historic Dodgertown....
VERO BEACH — It was clear the ball didn't have enough to get past the infield, and the crowd, nearly 100 strong, began to cheer in disbelief. Many fans were already on their feet. Others rose to join them.
As pitcher Callie Turner scooped up the ball and threw to first, the Land O'Lakes players in the dugout edged onto the field, squeezing each other's arms.
First baseman Shelby Westbrook closed her glove; the ball disappeared, the crowd erupted....
Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate male and female Hot Shot athletes from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. These nominations span Saturday, May 13 through Friday, May 19. Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monday.
Taylor Bump, softball, Canterbury: The Michigan signee scored the tying run and had the game-winning hit in a 2-1 victory over two-time defending champion Aucilla Christian in the Class 2A state title game....
VERO BEACH — On the three-hour trip to Historic Dodgertown, Palm Harbor University's players watched a 15-minute video compilation of former Hurricane standouts who offered their congratulations.
This year's team is full of sophomores who were just out of diapers when PHU last won a state title in 2005.
Lost in this influx of youth was a group of seniors — Jada Radecki, Taylor Scott, Bailey Wilson — who helped keep the Hurricanes double their win total from last season and become state title contenders....
VERO BEACH — Plant City's softball team was treated like royalty over the past week.
News traveled fast about their state semifinal appearance. It was a big deal, considering the softball program was the first team from the school to advance to a final four since the boys basketball team won state in 1982.
Alumni, as well as television crews, showed up at practices.
The euphoria around town had much to do with how the Raiders got here. A week ago, they beat nationally-ranked Lakewood Ranch in an 11-inning thriller....
VERO BEACH — Land O'Lakes made the state semifinals last year for just the second time in school history.
At the time, that accomplishment was good enough for the Gators.
On Friday at Historic Dodgertown, Land O'Lakes made it back to the state semifinals.
This time, the Gators did not have that same happy-to-be-here mentality.
Determined to take another significant step, Land O'Lakes beat North Fort Myers 2-0 in the Class 6A semifinals to advance to the championship game for the first time....
VERO BEACH — Land O’Lakes made the state semifinals last year for just the second time in school history.
At the time, that accomplishment was good enough for the Gators.
On Friday, Land O’Lakes made it back to the state semifinals.
This time, the Gators did not have that same happy-to-be here mentality.
Determined to take another significant step, Land O’Lakes beat North Fort Myers 2-0 in the 6A semifinals to advance to the championship game for the first time....
Armwood High coach Sean Callahan, who turned the football program into a state powerhouse, resigned Friday.
The longtime coach, who leaves with a 233-105 record, was already on an abbreviated timetable. This fall was supposed to be Callahan's final season. He was in the DROP (Deferred Retirement Option Program), a lucrative package for teachers who leave the profession within five years after signing up....
VERO BEACH — Final exams started Thursday at Canterbury School of Florida. For the nine seniors on the school's softball team, a bigger test was looming.
The Crusaders, who made the state semifinals for the fifth straight season, advanced to the Class 2A state title game at Historic Dodgertown. Once again, Canterbury faced Monticello Aucilla Christian (18-9), the team that knocked off the Crusaders in the semifinals each of the past two seasons....
Clearwater 21, Clearwater Central Catholic 14
Spring game-breakers: Tornadoes running back Jarius Williams, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in seven games last season, showed his big-play abilities Wednesday. Running behind an offensive line that returns four starters, Williams scored on runs of 58 and 37 yards in the first half. … Steinbrenner transfer Colin Wray is taking over the quarterbacking duties at Clearwater from Austin Day, who is graduating. Wray moved the ball well, engineering three first-half drives, including a 2-yard touchdown run of his own. … Marauders running back Jerzhan Newton will be a force in the fall. The rising sophomore is a 6-foot, 220-pound bruiser who scored both of CCC's touchdowns on runs of 7 and 2 yards … Deandre Fitz-Henley played on both sides of the ball for the Marauders and had a sack on defense....
TAMPA — Plant's most glaring vacancy this spring is at quarterback.
Last year, Dane Frantzen became the first bay area quarterback to rush for more than 1,500 yards and throw for 2,500 in a single season. He also led the Panthers to their first undefeated regular season since 2006 and an appearance in the Class 7A state title game.
Frantzen will soon be headed to Virginia Tech as a preferred walk-on....
Palm Harbor University softball coach Kerry Katchuk has always thought of his team more in terms of the future than the present.
After all, the Hurricanes have 13 freshmen and sophomores on the roster. There were older, more experienced teams that had waited their turn at the top, and PHU had not served the long apprenticeship that seems mandatory before winning a district title or making a state semifinal appearance....
Nature Coast 44, Palm Harbor University 14
Spring game-breakers: Both teams found capable replacements on offense. The Sharks' Zach Powell showed he can fill the void created by the departure of 1,500-yard runner TJ Owens, who is graduating. Powell, a rising senior, rushed for three touchdowns, including a 51-yarder in the third quarter that tied the score, and a 7-yarder later in the quarter that put Nature Coast ahead for good. … Hurricanes quarterback Wyatt Beasey has the same dual-threat capabilities as Cameron Mouton, who is graduating. Beasey, a rising junior, had a 43-yard completion to Zach Johnson that set up Nick Carr's 2-yard touchdown run. In the third quarter, Beasey hit Josh McKee on a 7-yard touchdown pass that put PHU ahead 14-8....
ST. PETERSBURG — Danielle Romanello and Taylor Bump know what it is like to reach the state semifinals in softball. The Canterbury seniors have done that for five straight seasons, a streak that began when they were starters in eighth grade.
No other bay area program has had that long of a run. Chamberlain was the closest with three straight appearances in the state semifinals from 2005-07....