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News4Jax Softball Super 6: Atlantic Coast moves in

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4Jax.com Super 6 high school softball weekly rankings will be published each Wednesday during the season. Records are through March 26 games. 

No., Team, Record, Class, Previous

1. Oakleaf (10-1), Class 8A, 1

Notable wins: Fleming Island, Fletcher (twice), Gainesville, Middleburg, Ridgeview, Trinity Christian, West Nassau. 

Glance: The Knights have won five straight since their lone loss, a 9-8 game against Atlantic Coast. Oakleaf claimed its own Tournament of Champions title by barreling through three high quality teams, previous No. 6 West Nassau (7-1), No. 4 Trinity Christian (11-3) and then a Gainesville team that entered 10-1 by an 8-0 score. That stretch was the official, ‘welcome to the 2019 gauntlet’ for Oakleaf. The Knights face No. 6 Atlantic Coast on Wednesday night, followed by No. 2 Mandarin on Friday and former Super 6 team Clay on April 2. Then it’s the Kissimmee Klassic, followed by a section of games that includes the likes of Lakewood Ranch, the No. 2 ranked team in the nation, unbeaten Trenton, Gainesville and Baker County. Buckle up. 

2.  Mandarin (11-0), Class 9A, 2

Notable wins: Atlantic Coast, Baldwin, Episcopal, First Coast, Fletcher, Paxon, Sandalwood (twice).

Glance: The Mustangs topped two solid teams since the last Super 6, an always good pitching squad in First Coast (6-1) and district rival Sandalwood (5-1). Big games await the Mustangs, headlined by Friday’s showdown at No. 1 Oakleaf. Soraya Hernandez (.429) and Hallie Kern (.409) are leading the offense and Ashley Wiebenga continues to showcase that she’s in the mix for the best pitcher in Duval County (10-0, 71.2 IP, 96 Ks, 0.88 ERA).

3. Baker County (12-2), Class 5A, 3

Notable wins: Bradford, Clay, Fleming Island, Hilliard (twice), Paxon, Trinity Christian, West Nassau.

Glance: The winning streak reached eight for the Wildcats, who thumped a 9-5 Bradford team (10-0) and then edged Clay (1-0) on a gem from Madison Lagle (3 hits, 11 Ks). Taylor Crews had the lone RBI in that game. Baker County gets a rematch Wednesday night at Clay. The Wildcats have a challenging April ahead, with games against Atlantic Coast (April 5), Creekside (April 9), Middleburg (April 11), Montverde (April 15) and Oakleaf (April 23) as the major hurdles.  

4. Bartram Trail (11-1), Class 7A, 5

Notable wins: Creekside, Episcopal, First Coast, Middleburg, Nease. 

Glance: The Bears bounced back from their lone loss of the season to a red-hot Providence with a 15-2 rout of Paxon, a game that Maegan O’Brien went 4 for 5 in. She boosted her average to .611. Haley Provencal tied a season-best with 4 RBI in the game. She’s got 24 on the season, along with 5 HR. Not a slew of big games left for the Bears, but they’ve got a rematch against Providence on Friday, challenging games against Middleburg and First Coast, April 9 and 10, respectively, and a big one at Mandarin on April 11 coming up.

5. Trinity Christian (10-4), Class 4A, 4

Notable wins: Baldwin, Clay, Ponte Vedra, Providence, Suwannee (twice), West Nassau.

Glance: The Conquerors went 2-2 since our last Super 6, losing to Oakleaf (11-3) and Lake Wales (5-3) in the Tournament of Champions. They also beat Clay (5-0) and Baldwin (9-1). A district game against Episcopal (April 4), followed by challenges at Creekside (April 16) and West Nassau (April 18) loom as the big local hurdles left. I’m leery to look ahead this far and presume a Trinity-Providence district championship battle (I did that last year and Episcopal put that matchup to rest) but that would be a fantastic matchup with how well the Stallions have played as of late. Recent losses aside, Trinity is going to be in the thick of the 4A playoff conversation as a legit state title contender. 

(tie) 6. Atlantic Coast (8-4), Class 8A, NR

Notable wins: Columbia, Creekside, First Coast (twice), Oakleaf, Sandalwood.

Glance: I’ve gone back and forth on this spot, floating between the Stingrays, West Nassau and Providence. I took the easy way out and went with a tie. Atlantic Coast, even though it has losses to No. 2 Mandarin, Ridgeview and Providence this month, squeezed in a win during that losing stretch over No. 1 and nationally ranked Oakleaf, and has won three in a row since a 5-2 loss to the Mustangs on March 19. Kennedy Searcy (.500), Erin Moon (.462) and Alyssa Grupp (.439) are all over .400 at the plate. Sophie Abrams fired a two-hit shutout, outdueling First Coast’s Teagan Stafford in a 2-0 win on Monday. Providence has won five in a row and could be in the conversation here next week. 

(tie) 6. West Nassau (8-4), Class 5A, 5

Notable win: Baker County, Keystone Heights, Yulee.

Glance: The Warriors had a difficult draw in the Tournament of Champions, losing to Oakleaf and Clay, and then bouncing back to dime Keystone Heights. West Nassau added a 6-0 victory over Bishop Kenny on Tuesday night. Madison Dixon leads the Warriors at the plate (.500), followed by Hope Epps (.421) and Bree Hartman (.419). 

Others: Atlantic Coast (8-4, Class 8A), Baldwin (7-4, Class 4A), Clay (8-5, Class 6A), Columbia (7-5, Class 7A), Creekside (6-3, Class 7A), Episcopal (5-2, Class 4A), Fleming Island (5-3, Class 8A), Keystone Heights (8-4, Class 5A), Providence (8-5, Class 4A), Ridgeview (9-5, Class 6A), St. Johns Country Day (7-1, Class 3A), University Christian (8-2, Class 3A).
 


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