Forest (Ocala) wins its first-ever state softball title; ‘Cats finish on top of regional poll
GAINESVILLE – Four of the eight state softball champions that were crowned are from The Prep Zone coverage area, and two of those state champs are the top two teams in the final Prep Zone Softball Power Poll.
Forest (Ocala) rallied with two runs in the bottom of the 8th to beat Oakleaf (Orange Park) in the 6A state semifinals, then held off Chamberlain (Tampa), 8-7, in the state championship game for the Wildcats’ first softball state title. Forest (30-2) ends up as the unanimous #1 team atop the final Power Poll, receiving all seven first-place votes.
Following in second is 5A state champion Baker County (Glen St. Mary). The Wildcats (24-4) defeated defending 5A state champ American Heritage (Plantation) 1-0 in the state championship game to win their first softball title. Baker County knocked off our #3 team, Belleview, 6-4, in the 5A state semifinals. It was the third trip to the state semifinal round in four years for the Rattlers (24-7).
Creekside (St. Johns) dropped two spots to #4 after losing to Oakleaf 5-3 in the Region 1-6A final. Creekside (24-6) had made the state semifinals the last two years. Finishing off the top five is Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville), who just missed out on their first state semifinal appearance with a 2-1 loss to eventual 7A state champion Tate (Cantonment) in the Region 1-7A final.
Leading off the second five is two-time defending 1A state champion Chiefland. The Lady Indians (19-4) grabbed their second state title in a row with a come-from-behind 8-inning win over Jay, the same team Chiefland beat in the state championship game in 2014. Chiefland also beat rival Bell 6-1 in the 1A state semifinal.
Oakleaf moves from outside of the poll all the way into the top ten at #7. The Knights (19-13) won the District 2-6A title as a #4 seed, knocking off nationally-ranked Gainesville in the district semifinals, then upset Creekside in the Region 1-6A final before losing a 2-1 state semifinal game in eight innings to eventual 6A state champion Forest.
Two more state semifinalists are tied for 8th.
Santa Fe (Alachua) advanced to it’s first state semifinal appearance in school history in 4A, where the Raiders (21-8) were bounced by state runner-up West Nassau (Callahan).
University Christian (Jacksonville) also advanced to its first state semifinal in program history in 3A, dropping a 4-1 decision to eventual state champion Lakeland Christian. The Christians finished the season at 19-6.
Clay (Green Cove Springs) rounds out the top 10. The Blue Devils (22-6) were knocked out 2-1 in a close Region 1-5A semifinal by eventual state champ Baker County.
West Nassau leads off the second 10. Despite only a 13-12 record going into the regional playoffs, the Warriors advanced all the way to the 4A state title game, losing a close 3-1 decision to the only undefeated softball team in Florida, Coral Springs Charter.
The fourth and final state champion in the final poll is 2A winner Aucilla Christian (Monticello). The Warriors knocked off defending 2A state champion Canterbury (St. Petersburg) in the state semifinals, avenging a 1-0 loss in the 2A state championship game in 2014. Aucilla Christian (22-8) easily defeated Grandview Prep (Boca Raton) 12-1 in five innings to win the school’s first state title of any kind. That allowed the Warriors to jump from unranked to #13 in the final poll.
The last state semifinalist to make the final poll is Bell (19-7) in 1A. The Bulldogs advanced to the state semifinals for the second straight year, losing to two-time state champion Chiefland, 6-1, and they moved into the poll in a tie for #18 with Bartram Trail (St. Johns).
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.
PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2015 SOFTBALL FINAL POLL
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final record and total voting points)
1. Forest (Ocala) (6A) (7) (30-2) – 140
2. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (5A) (24-4) – 132
3. Belleview (5A) (24-7) – 122
4. Creekside (St. Johns) (6A) (24-6) – 109
5. Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville) (7A) (24-6) – 105
6. Chiefland (1A) (19-4) – 90
7. Oakleaf (Orange Park) (6A) (19-13) – 85
T-8. Santa Fe (Alachua) (4A) (21-8) – 77
T-8. University Christian (Jacksonville) (3A) (19-6) – 77
10. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (5A) (22-6) – 73
11. West Nassau (Callahan) (4A) (17-13) – 71
12. South Sumter (Bushnell) (4A) (23-4) – 65
13. Aucilla Christian (Monticello) (2A) (22-8) – 62
14. Fleming Island (Orange Park) (7A) (23-5) – 49
15. Gainesville (6A) (24-2) – 47
16. Bradford (Starke) (4A) (20-6) – 35
17. Lafayette (Mayo) (1A) (20-6) – 23
T-18. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (6A) (22-7) – 20
T-18. Bell (1A) (19-7) – 20
20. Deltona (6A) (19-4) – 15
Also receiving votes: Mount Dora (5A) (19-9) – 12, Suwannee (Live Oak) (5A) (21-8) – 10, Nature Coast (Brooksville) (5A) (21-5) – 7, Seabreeze (Daytona Beach) (6A) (15-6) – 7, Mandarin (Jacksonville) (8A) (18-10) – 3, Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) (4A) (14-8) – 2, Dunnellon (5A) (15-12) – 1.