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2019 North Florida All-Star Softball preview


softballGAINESVILLE, FL. – Numerous college signees and state champion players dot the rosters of the four teams for the inaugural North Florida All-Star Softball Classic.

The games, which are a part of the North Florida All-Star Series presented by “The Prep Zone,” take place this Tuesday, June 11, at Oakleaf High School in Orange Park.

Much like the inaugural baseball classic at Columbia High School in Lake City last week, the softball classic will consist of four games beginning at 10 AM. The North All-Stars will battle the East in the opening game, with the South tangling with the West at Noon. The losers of the first two games will play for third place at 3 PM, with the winners playing for the championship at 5 PM.

Tickets at the gate will be $10 for adults for the entire day, and $5 for children and students with ID. Children five and under will be admitted for free.  No coolers are allowed inside the ballpark but beverages and snacks will be available for the public.

The North team, consisting of players from Duval, St. Johns, and Nassau counties, is managed by Bartram Trail (St. Johns) head coach Jen Harman, who has led the Bears to five state semifinal appearances, including back-to-back 5A state titles in 2008 and 2009, while .  Creekside (St. Johns) head coach Neil Luciano will be one of her assistants. Luciano led the Knights to a 25-5 record and a state runner-up finish in 7A in 2019. Mandarin (Jacksonville) head coach Natalia Gonzalez is the other assistant. Gonzalez has helmed the Mustangs to two state semifinal appearances in 17 seasons and Mandarin finished the 2019 season 24-3 and was #1 in the 9A state rankings most of the season.

Five Mandarin players lead the way in selections for the North, led by Jacksonville University signee Hallie Kern, who hit .411 with a team-leading 27 RBI’s to lead the Mustangs this season. Teammates Jessica Urrutia, sisters Soraya and Serena Hernandez, and Kaylee Beauford, join Kern on the North squad. Class 4A state champion Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) has two representatives from their first fast-pitch softball state title team in Bailey Cooley and Linzie Lafavor, while Michigan State signee Jenae Wash from Creekside helps round out this team.

The East All-Stars are the opponent for the North on Tuesday, and this team includes five players from the host school for the games, the Oakleaf Knights. Oakleaf head coach Christina Thompson is the East manager, while brother Casey Thompson, the head coach at Ridgeview (Orange Park), and Clay (Green Cove Springs) coach Matt Lewis, are assistant coaches for this squad.

Christina Thompson has led Oakleaf to at least the state semifinals four of the past five seasons, with an 8A state championship in 2017 and state runner-up finish in 2018. Casey Thompson guided Ridgeview to its first state semifinal appearance in 6A this season.

Among the five Oakleaf players for the East include University of Florida signee Baylee Goddard and UCF signee Madisyn Davis. Cambria Arturo and sisters Caitlynne and Jasmine Lamug also represent the Knights. Middleburg placed four players on this team, led by Haleigh Wright and Kiersten Sanchez.

The second game of the day will pit the South All-Stars against the West.  The South team represents the area from Alachua County south to Marion, Lake, and Volusia counties.

Brittany Beall of Eustis is the head coach for this team and is assisted by Lake Weir (Ocala) manager Brandon Surber. Beall led Eustis to a 26-2 record and a regional semifinal appearance in 2019. She also took the Panthers to their first state championship game appearance in 2017, as they finished 5A state runners-up. Surber guided Lake Weir to their first regional playoff appearance in five years this season.

Beall has two of her players playing for her on the South team, led by Notre Dame signee Leea Hanks and the Panthers’ ace pitcher in 2019, St. Leo signee Kayla Betts. The team that eliminated Eustis in the 5A regional playoffs, Santa Fe (Alachua), placed two players on the South, UNF signee pitcher Hailey Raulerson and Flagler College signee Courtney Robinson. Belleview’s Trinity Girovasi and Kierstyn Kohlmaier also highlight this team along with Drew Wrask and Jenna Smith of Buchholz (Gainesville).

The West squad is led by Todd Bryant, the head coach of this year’s Class 1A state champions, the Trenton Tigers. Bryant, who won a 1A state baseball title in 2013 with Trenton and took the Tigers to the 1A state title game in 2018, led Trenton to an undefeated 27-0 season and first fast-pitch softball state title in school history in 2019.  Bryant, this year’s 1A Coach of the Year, is assisted by his assistant coach Clint Anderson, and Bell head coach Krystal Holley.

The West team, which has 12 of 14 college signees, is led by three players from 7A Columbia (Lake City), including Santa Fe College signees Cris’Deona Beasly and Dara Gaylard, and Florida Gulf Coast University signee Lauren Hutcherson. Madison County also has three representatives, led by another Santa Fe College signee in Laila Dickey, and rivals Trenton and Bell placed two players apiece on the West squad.

The inaugural North Florida All-Star Softball Series rosters were picked with nominations from coaches and chosen by the North Florida All-Star Committee, which consists of Mike Ridaught and Marty Pallman from The Prep Zone, along with Corey Davis of DuvalSports.com and Joshua Wilson of FloridaHSFootball.com.

The third-place and championship games will be broadcast with live streaming video from Orange Park on Tuesday via the NFHS Network. A broadcast link will be provided soon here at ThePrepZone.com.

For more information, please text Mike Ridaught at 352-258-8450 or email northflaallstar@gmail.com.

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