News4Jax Super 6 softball: Oakleaf, West Nassau open at the top in 2021

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – High school softball season stopped abruptly last spring during the pandemic. So, too, did the News4Jax Super 6 rankings. But they return this week for the first installment in 2021. They’ll be published every Wednesday during the regular season.

A bit of a refresher from last year. When the season was paused, and eventually canceled due to COVID-19, our Super 6 looked like this — Ridgeview, Oakleaf, West Nassau, Episcopal, Bartram Trail and Atlantic Coast. Records are through Feb. 23 games.

Softball Super 6 rankings

Rank, school, record, classification

1. Oakleaf (2-0, Class 7A)

Notable wins: Creekside, Ridgeview.

Glance: The Knights are always a pick to land high in the Super 6 and they open 2021 in a familiar position. They’ve got a new coach in Tony Voiro, a former Oakleaf assistant who replaced Christina Thompson as the latter moved up into administration at the school. P Madi McDaniel is the ace in the circle this year for the Knights. She went 6-1 last year with 18 Ks in 42 innings.

2. West Nassau (1-0, Class 3A)

Notable wins: None.

Glance: The Warriors were unbeaten last year when the season ended and have opened this season with a 13-1 rout of Yulee. The first big test for West Nassau comes Friday against No. 3 Ridgeview, followed by another Super 6 game against Episcopal on March 2. IF Hope Epps and P Regan Lee are back to lead the Warriors.

3. Ridgeview (1-1, Class 4A)

Notable win: Atlantic Coast.

Glance: The Panthers were No. 1 in the area when the season stopped last year. And it’s easy to forgot how strong this team was in 2019 when it went 22-9 and reached the state semifinals. CF Ashlyn Halford is 5 for 7 at the plate to start out. P Brittany Michael returns in the circle and has 41 career victories. It’s also worth noting that C Brooke Michael, twin sister of the Panthers’ pitcher, is continuing her battle against cancer and making steady progress.

4. Bartram Trail (2-0, Class 7A)

Notable win: Ponte Vedra.

Glance: The Bears are annually one of the best softball teams around and they were off to a 6-1 start in 2020 before the season was canceled. Coach Jen Harman’s team has a good bit of experience coming back, including OF Mackenzie Williams (.500), C Emma Morris (.400) and IF Haley Provencal (.370).

5. Trinity Christian (2-0, Class 2A)

Notable wins: Atlantic Coast, Providence.

Glance: The Conquerors won the Class 4A state championship in a 16-0 blowout of Westminster Christian in 2019 and were poised to defend that crown a year ago. They’re in 2A now and still have a few big pieces of that champion team back. MacKenzie Marell, Morgan McMillan, Amaya Ross and Reagan Griffis are all seniors and back. Natalia Burnsed hit .391 last season and returns. Conquerors certainly have repeat title intentions, and the talent to get there.

6. Episcopal (1-0, Class 3A)

Notable win: Atlantic Coast.

Glance: The pandemic made it easy to forget about spring sports in 2020, but what should be brought back up is just how well the Eagles were playing before things stopped. They’d logged quality wins over Bartram Trail and Trinity Christian in a 7-2 start. Quite a few of those players are back for Episcopal, including C Peyton Namyslowski, P Maddie Latta and SS Kami Eppley.

Others: Baldwin (3-0, Class 3A; Clay (1-0, Class 4A); Creekside (1-2, Class 6A); First Coast (3-0, Class 6A); Fletcher (1-1, Class 6A); Keystone Heights (1-1, Class 3A); Mandarin (1-1, Class 7A); Middleburg (1-0, Class 5A); Paxon (2-1, Class 4A); Providence (0-1, Class 3A).

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.