High school softball ‘22: A glance at 1st-round games on Wednesday, Thursday

The high school softball state playoffs begin Wednesday night in Florida.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The first round of the high school softball state playoffs is Wednesday and Thursday night this week. Here’s a glance at the opening-round games. All games are at 7 p.m. unless indicated.

Wednesday’s games

Region 1-4A

(8) Clay (14-11) at (1) Baker County (12-11)

(5) Wakulla (14-9) and (4) Yulee (14-12)

(7) Bishop Kenny (15-9) at (2) West Florida (14-10)

(6) Paxon (12-10) vs. (3) Matanzas (14-9), at Daytona State College

Region glance: Another solid local region. Baker County’s record is ho-hum, but the Wildcats have just one bad loss this season (9-0 to Hilliard). They’ve played a solid schedule and are always tough at home. Brooklyn Kennedy (.435, 13 RBI) leads the Wildcats at the plate, with Madison Lagle (4-6, 113 Ks, 77 IP) as the top arm. Clay is led by Sydney Davis (.461) and Gabrielle Ellis (.434). … Annalisa Winebarger (.485, 5 HR, 30 RBI) and Ava Martyn (.471, 23 RBI) have led the Hornets all season. They helped end a seven-game losing streak to Bishop Kenny to win the district title. Should Yulee win, it would face Baker County or Clay on May 17. … For the Crusaders, Caroline Orum (.375, 23 RBI) and Alleana De Leon (.338, 16 RBI) will try and help Kenny end a seven-game playoff losing skid that dates back to the 2008 season. … The Pirates and Golden Eagles is another good clash. Emma Wood (.642, 3 HR) is one of the top hitters in the area for Matanzas, a program that won its first playoff game last year. Paxon is not a team to take lightly. Mackenzie Pitzer (.477, 27 RBI), Ava Farnham (.407) and Kennedy Waymer (.405) lead a very good offense. The winner will face Kenny or West Florida on May 17.

Region 1-3A

(8) Episcopal (14-7) at (1) Baldwin (23-2)

(7) Marianna (17-5) at (2) Providence (18-6)

(6) West Nassau (16-7) at (3) Keystone Heights (17-9)

Region glance: An exceptionally difficult region with very strong local teams, two of them who topped the News4JAX Super 6 (Baldwin, West Nassau). A realistic case can be made for any of the five area teams here to reach the regional final. The Indians, who took the No. 1 position in the second set of rankings and held on to it the rest of the season, have been consistent all year. They’ve won five one-run games and faced a solid schedule. Cali Hartung (.403, 3 HR), Jaz Ramos-Merced (.375, 2 HR, 22 RBI) and Kendall North (.371, 17 RBI) have led the way at the plate. Piper Young has 110 Ks in 113.1 IP. There’s no easy path to the regional, especially with last year’s state semifinalist Episcopal up first. The Eagles, led by Grace Jones (.542, 17 RBI; 13-6, 1.11 ERA, 250 Ks) and Peyton Namyslowski (.409), beat Baldwin 5-0 in the playoff opener last year. The winner would face North Bay Haven or Florida High on May 17. … Providence enters the playoffs on a tear, winners of nine straight. Seniors Ella Roberson (.458, 5 HR, 23 RBI) and Kayla Burmeister (.377, 4 HR) provide the veteran leadership. Juniors Zoe Yaeger (.429, 6 HR, 24 RBI) and Joey Trawick (.365, 14 RBI; 18-6, 160 Ks, 147 IP) are two of the best 2023 players in the area. … Keystone and West Nassau is another excellent opening matchup. The Warriors have a 1-0 win over the Indians this season and are always a threat to reach the state semifinals. Reese Green (.394) and Peyton Bass (13.5, 119 Ks, 127.2 IP). Emma Rogel (.471, 17 RBI) and Kiley Channell (.412, 28 RBI) lead Keystone. The winner would face either Providence or Marianna on May 17.

Region 1-2A

(8) Munroe (14-7) at (1) Trinity Christian (12-8)

(5) St. Johns Country Day (12-4) at (4) Peniel Baptist (12-12)

(7) Wakulla Christian (15-7) at (2) University Christian (15-8), 6:30 p.m.

Region glance: This region should play out with UC and Trinity meeting in the regional final for the second consecutive season. Sophia Kardatzke remains an absolute destroyer for UC. She’s hitting .581 with an area-high 14 HRs. In the circle, she’s whiffed 203 in 110.2 IP. Jaleigha Harris (.375) and Macie Bourgholtzer (.375) follow at the plate. The Christians have yet to lose to a Class 2A team this season and should be positioned well for another state semifinal push. With a win, UC would face North Florida Christian or Aucilla Christian on May 17. … Trinity’s record is so-so but there’s a reason why the Conquerors are a No. 1 seed. The Conquerors scheduled tough so they’re more than prepared for this. Hannah Rivers (.411, 16 RBI) and Breezy Burnett (.346) lead the offense, with Carolyn Lasater (61 Ks, 104.1 IP) handling the pitching load. … St. Johns has big bats in the form of Megan Jeffers (.632, 4 HR, 16 RBI), Veronica Flynn (.543, 6 HR) and Kylie Shannon (.528, HR) and shouldn’t have a problem with a Peniel team that has beaten twice by a combined score of 23-5. The Spartans, should they win, would face Trinity or Munroe on May 17.

Thursday’s games

Region 1-7A

(7) Creekside (16-9) at (2) Oakleaf (15-7)

Region glance: A quick rematch for these two. Oakleaf walked off Creekside 8-7 to win the district title last week in a classic. Kylie Hammonds (.482, 28 RBI) and Kendall Catherwood (.424 (15 RBI) lead Creekside at the plate. Kaylee Martineau (90 Ks, 119.1 IP, 2.29 ERA) has been very good in the circle this season and continues on a path to being a four-year starter. Oakleaf won seven of its last eight games and played a challenging schedule under first-year coach Heather Han. Juniors Mariyah Sanchez (.473, 3 HR, 26 RBI), Ciara Gibson (.459, 3 HR, 16 RBI) and senior Khloe Banks (.431, 4 HR, 27 RBI) front a powerful Oakleaf offense. The winner advances to face West Port or Apopka in the regional semifinals on May 17.

Region 1-6A

(5) Spruce Creek (20-4) at (4) Fletcher (15-9)

Region glance: The Senators started 1-5 and then turned things around considerably. They rallied to beat First Coast in extra innings to win the district title. Fletcher went 11-3 in April and May. Dacie Watterson (.480, 4 HR) and Emily Perry (.403, 34 RBI) lead Fletcher at the plate. Presly Harrell (15-7, 117 Ks, 150.2 IP, 1.86 ERA) is the leader in the circle. A win would send Fletcher into a May 17 regional semifinal against Pace or Lake Howell.

Region 1-5A

(8) Ponte Vedra (13-12) at (1) Tallahassee Lincoln (15-8)

(5) Ridgeview (14-6) at (4) Gulf Breeze (15-11)

(7) Ocala Vanguard (16-9) at (2) Middleburg (15-11)

Region glance: It will be a more difficult trek for a return trip to the state semifinals for the Panthers. Mary Girgis (.415) and Hannah Crosby (.375) lead Ridgeview at the plate. Freshman Lily Bennett (13-4, 111 Ks, 112 IP, 1.69 ERA) has been very good for the Panthers in the circle. … The Broncos have one of the area’s top hurlers in Mallory Forrester (205 Ks, 97 IP) and a stellar sophomore ace in Morgan Beckham (110 Ks, 70 IP). The bats of Belle Mincey (.377) and Kaelyn Hagan (.369) are tops on Middleburg. … The Sharks got hot at the right time, winning four of their final five games and squeezed into the playoffs. Kate Mikle (.465, 22 RBI), Caiden Oliva (.442, 6 HR, 32 RBI) and Sarah Wickler (.417; 149 Ks in 100 IP, 2.24 ERA) pace Ponte Vedra.

Region 3-1A

(4) Lafayette (13-6) at (1) Fort White (13-7)

(3) Union County (17-5) at (2) Madison County (14-9)

Region glance: The fourth meeting of the season between Fort White and Lafayette, with the Indians holding a 2-1 edge. Kadence Compton (.385, 2 HR; 13.5, 1.38 ERA, 178 Ks, 116.2) and Madison Brown (.370, 13 RBI) lead the Indians. … A district title game rematch for Union and Madison. The Cowboys won 7-4 last week. Angela Tucker (.493, 20 RBI, Tamia Young (.452, 22 RBI) and Leah Clark (.400, 32 RBI) lead the Tigers. A win would send Union on to face either Lafayette or Fort White.


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.