The Prep Zone Power Poll powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville – 2021 Softball Poll #5 (FINAL POLL)
Eustis captures first state fast-pitch softball title and finishes in top spot of final 2021 regional all-classification rankings
GAINESVILLE — After a 2020 season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, high school softball safely navigated through the 2021 season in North Central Florida.
And for the teams in The Prep Zone Power Poll, there were some state champions, state runner-up and plenty of teams who advanced to the state semifinals in Clermont.
Finishing in the top spot after winning their first fast-pitch softball state title are the 4A champs, the Eustis Panthers.
In the state playoffs, Eustis (27-1) outscored their five opponents 38-2 behind sophomore pitcher Libby Levandoski, who struck out 17 Hernando (Brooksville) hitters in the 5-0 victory for the Panthers in the 4A state championship game in Clermont.
The Panthers beat #4 Ridgeview (Orange Park) 2-0 in the state semifinals and #5 Hernando in the title game and received six of the eight first-place votes as they move up from 4th in the previous poll to #1 in the final rankings.
The only loss for Eustis in 2021 was 5-4 to eventual 6A state runner-up Winter Springs.
Class 7A University (Orange City) finished 2nd with one first-place vote.
The Titans (25-1) made it through the regular season and district tournament unbeaten and won Region 1-7A with wins over RV Bartram Trail (St. Johns), #16 Oakleaf (Orange Park), and a region final win at Lake Brantley (Altamonte Springs).
University faced a fellow unbeaten team in Park Vista (Lake Worth) in the state semifinal in Clermont, losing 4-3. Park Vista lost in the 7A title game to Lakewood Ranch (Bradenton) 14-4.
Coming in 3rd is 1A state champion Trenton.
The Tigers (20-1) repeated as 1A state champs, defeating #10 Dixie County (Cross City) 4-0 in the Region 4-1A final to advance to Clermont.
Trenton rallied past #15 Branford 3-2 in the state semifinal, then held off Jay 5-4 in the state title game to win their second state title in the past three years.
The Tigers also captured the 1A championship in 2019 and were state runners-up in 2018 and have won 57 of their last 58 games under coach Todd Bryant, who announced his retirement after the win.
Trenton beat Dixie County three times and knocked off first-time state semifinalist Branford to repeat as state champs and received the final first-place vote.
Ridgeview drops a couple of spots to finish 4th despite their second straight trip to the final four.
The Panthers (26-4) advanced through a tough Region 1-4A with wins over RV Clay (Green Cove Springs) and #7 Baker County (Glen St. Mary) in the region final, rallying for three runs in the bottom of the 7th to beat the Wildcats.
But like Hernando, Ridgeview ran into a red-hot Levandoski of Eustis in the state semifinals and lost there for the second time in a row.
Hernando rounds out the top five.
The Leopards (26-5) also advanced to the state semifinal for the second tournament in a row, but this time rallied from a 8-2 deficit in the fifth inning against American Heritage (Plantation) to win 9-8 and advance to their first state title game appearance since 2000.
Class 3A state semifinalist Episcopal (Jacksonville) starts off the second five.
The Eagles (23-6) knocked off then-#5 West Nassau (Callahan) on a walk-off homer in the region semifinal and defeated Marianna in the Region 1-3A final to advance to their first state semifinal appearance.
Episcopal was beaten by eventual 3A state runner-up Windermere Prep 4-0 but it was still a historical season for the Eagles, and they moved up five spots to finish #6.
After Baker County at #7 is 2A state runner-up University Christian (Jacksonville), which finishes 8th.
The Christians (18-3), who were unranked in the final regular season poll, upset then-#9 Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) 11-6 in the Region 1-2A final to advance to the 2A final four in Clermont.
After an 8-3 win over #17 Mount Dora Christian Academy in the state semifinals, UC came up short 3-1 in the 2A final to Canterbury School (St. Petersburg) in a game that had only four hits combined.
West Nassau finishes 9th, while Dixie County rounds out the top 10.
Besides University Christian and Mount Dora Christian Academy, also new to the poll is Branford. Taylor (Pierson) also moves in at a tie for 20th with Baldwin.
Falling out from the previous poll are Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville), West Port (Ocala), and Lecanto.
The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, basketball, baseball & softball teams (regardless of FHSAA classification) across 26 counties in North Florida (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, Sumter, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union & Volusia counties). It is voted on weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters and it is powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville.
THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2021 SOFTBALL POLL #5 (FINAL POLL)
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final record through 5/22, and total voting points)
1. Eustis (4A) (6) (27-1) – 158
2. University (Orange City) (7A) (1) (25-1) – 149
3. Trenton (1A) (1) (20-1) – 145
4. Ridgeview (Orange Park) (4A) (26-4) – 137
5. Hernando (Brooksville) (4A) (26-5) – 128
6. Episcopal (Jacksonville) (3A) (23-6) – 115
7. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (4A) (18-8) – 97
8. University Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (18-3) – 93
9. West Nassau (Callahan) (3A) (20-7) – 84
10. Dixie County (Cross City) (1A) (20-3) – 80
11. East Ridge (Clermont) (7A) (20-8) – 73
12. Creekside (St. Johns) (6A) (20-6) – 65
13. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (17-7) – 64
14. Belleview (4A) (21-8) – 48
15. Branford (1A) (15-5) – 43
16. Oakleaf (Orange Park) (7A) (17-10) – 38
17. Mount Dora Christian Academy (2A) (20-9) – 35
18. South Lake (Groveland) (6A) (21-5) – 20
19. Gainesville (5A) (18-7) – 19
20T. Baldwin (3A) (20-6) – 16
20T. Taylor (Pierson) (3A) (19-4) – 16
Also receiving votes: Middleburg (5A) (15-15) – 14; Taylor County (Perry) (1A) (18-9) – 10; Clay (Green Cove Springs) (4A) (19-10) – 9; Paxon (Jacksonville) (4A) (14-7) – 7; Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (7A) (17-11) – 6; Paxon (Jacksonville) (4A) (17-8) – 5; Fernandina Beach (3A) (19-6) – 4; West Port (Ocala) (7A) (18-6) – 2; Union County (Lake Butler) (1A) (12-9) – 1.