Columbia (Lake City) will try and defend its 6A state title beginning this week at the 6A-District 2 tournament at Orange Park. The top-seeded Tigers (22-1) received five of the seven first-place votes and edged unbeaten Ponte Vedra for the #1 ranking this week (138-135 in total voting points).
The Sharks (22-0), one of two unbeaten teams in the poll, received the other two first-place votes. They will be the team to beat at the Class 5A-District 4 tournament hosted by Clay (Green Cove Springs), which is ranked 20th in this week’s poll. The Blue Devils (17-6) dropped five spots after a 6-5 loss to No. 10 Bartram Trail (St. Johns), which will host the 6A-4 tournament as the No. 2 seed.
The top seed in that tournament is Creekside (St. Johns). The Knights (16-5) went unbeaten in league play this year, including a two-game sweep of the Bears (20-5). They could meet again for a third time in the district championship game on Thursday night.
P.K. Yonge (Gainesville), which was ranked No. 1 in the country at one time according to MaxPreps, remained third in this week’s poll. If the top-seeded Blue Wave (19-2) advance to the 4A-District 5 championship game, they would face either No. 13 Bradford (Starke) (16-7) or No. 16 Santa Fe (Alachua) (18-6), which play in the semifinals, for the district title.
Rounding out the top five are a pair of Marion County teams.
Forest (Ocala), which has won nine of its last 10 games, is seeking to reach the postseason for the first time since 2011. The No. 4 Wildcats (22-2) dominated 6A-District 6 this year but outscoring their district foes, 86-6.
Meanwhile, Belleview, which leads the county with a .416 batting average, has slowly climbed in the polls. The Rattlers (21-4), ranked No. 19 in the preseason poll, have won 10 in a row and moved up two spots to fifth.
Class 5A Hernando (Brooksville) (23-2) is ranked sixth, while 5A Nature Coast (Brooksville), which has lost only to #5 Belleview, #6 Hernando & #12 Citrus, and 5A Baker County (Glen St. Mary) are tied for seventh with identical 20-3 records. Class 7A East Ridge (Clermont) (19-3) and Bartram Trail round out the top 10.
The biggest jump in the poll was made by West Nassau (Callahan), which moved up five spots to No. 14 following a 3-0 week which included a 5-3 win over Baker County. The Warriors (19-5), winners of six in a row, went undefeated in 4A-District 4 this season and will host their district tournament.
The top 20 remained intact as all 20 teams stayed in the poll. Class 7A Deltona (16-3) and 2A Seven Rivers Christian (15-4) are the only other teams receiving votes.
Class 1A Dixie County (Cross City) is the only other unbeaten team. The No. 15 Bears (19-0) have won every game by two runs or more, including 13 games by 10 or more runs.
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 – 2014 Softball Poll #6
(School, followed by first-place votes, classification, record through 4/13 and total voting points)
1. Columbia (5) (6A) (22-1) – 138
2. Ponte Vedra (2) (5A) (22-0) – 135
3. PK Yonge (Gainesville) (4A) (19-2) – 124
4. Forest (Ocala) (6A) (22-2)– 120
5. Belleview (5A) (21-4) – 111
6. Hernando (Brooksville) (5A) (23-2) – 106
7T Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (5A) (20-3) – 86
7T Nature Coast (Brooksville) (5A) (20-3)– 86
9. East Ridge (Clermont) (7A) (19-3) – 83
10. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (6A) (20-5) – 76
11. Creekside (St. Johns) (6A) (16-5) – 74
12. Citrus (Inverness) (5A) (19-5) – 62
13. Bradford (Starke) (4A) (16-7) – 55
14. West Nassau (Callahan) (4A) (19-5) – 52
15. Dixie County (Cross City) (1A) (19-0) – 48
16. Santa Fe (Alachua) (4A) (18-6) – 33
17. Montverde Academy (4A) (18-4) – 19
18. Aucilla Christian (Monticello) (2A) (14-3) – 18
19. Mandarin (Jacksonville) (8A) (20-5) – 16
20. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (5A) (17-6)– 15
Also receiving votes: Deltona (7A) (16-3) – 12; Seven Rivers Christian (Lecanto) (2A) (15-4) – 1.