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The Prep Zone Insider – Friday, April 8

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Mike_Ridaught_photo at SouthernBy Mike Ridaught
Twitter – @ridaught

Friday, April 8

The district softball tournaments are all set. Well, almost.

Next week’s Class 1A-District 6 tournament, which will be broadcast online at ThePrepZone.com, still has some unfinished business. Current top seed Fort White, which is unbeaten and tied for second in the Miracle Sports Class 1A state softball rankings, will host Union County tonight for the No. 1 seed. If the Indians (16-0, 11-0) win, they are the top seed in next week’s district tournament which begins on Monday in Lake Butler. If the visiting Tigers (14-3, 10-1), ranked 4th in the state, win the game tonight, then they will flip a coin after the game to determine the No. 1 seed. At stake, is a first-round bye.

The top seed will play the winner of the 4/5 game between Newberry and Hilliard on Tuesday. While the match-up is decided in the quarterfinals, a coin toss prior to the game will settle a tie-breaker as both the Panthers and Flashes are tied at 5-7 in league play. The winner of the coin toss will be the #4 seed and designated as the home team in the game on Monday at 3 p.m.

The No. 2 seed will get Hawthorne. Fort White and Union County dominated the Hornets so go ahead and pencil in the No. 2 seed for the district semifinals on Tuesday. They each outscored Hawthorne, 45-0, in their two games played.

The biggest challenge for the No. 2 seed at that point (semifinals) is a likely match-up against the state’s No. 5-ranked team Baldwin (18-6, 11-5). The Indians, the No. 3 seed, face 6th seeded Williston in the quarterfinals. The Indians swept the Red Devils during the season, outscoring them 35-6 in the two games.

If it’s Baldwin and Union County, the host Tigers won both meetings this year and even though it’s tough to beat a team three times in a season, there’s a good chance we could have Fort White and Union County in the 1A-District 6 championship game on Thursday – which would be another top five match-up in the state.

The two teams that make it to the district championship game also advance to the FHSAA state playoffs, which begins on Thursday, April 21 (1A-4A). The Class 5A-8A regionals begin on Wednesday, April 20. This district is the only district tournament in the area that has that many teams state ranked in it – which is why we’ll be there providing coverage, along with Union County Radio. However, that also means that either the state’s No. 2 (Fort White), 4th (Union County) or 5th-ranked team (Baldwin) won’t make the postseason.

Baseball coverage

We’re winding down our regular season coverage of the high school baseball season with broadcasts on Tuesday (North Marion at Buchholz) and Thursday (Gainesville at Williston). Both games will be broadcast online at ThePrepZone.com.  The second game will involve a state-ranked team.

Buchholz, which has struggled as of late, will host North Marion (Citra) on Tuesday. The Bobcats (10-10, 1-4 in 8A-District 1) are on the road tonight for their final league game against Chiles in Tallahassee. A couple of weeks ago, Buchholz had one of the best chances of getting into the state playoffs among the Alachua County teams, other than Gainesville. But the Bobcats have lost six in a row and have been outscored during that stretch, 63-14.  They had played Tallahassee Lincoln tough on the road (March 29), and only lost 2-1, but then gave up a 10-spot and lost at home two days later, 17-7.

North Marion (14-5), which secured the No. 1 seed in 6A-District 5, will play at rival Forest (Ocala) tonight. The Colts, who will host their district tournament, have also struggled some against tough competition. They are 2-4 in their last six with wins against Keystone Heights and West Port (Ocala) and losses to 1A #3 Williston, at Bartram Trail, and twice to 4A #8 Trinity Catholic (Ocala).

Gainesville will play at two-time defending 1A state champion Williston on Thursday. GHS (13-8, 5-1 in 7A-District 3), which lost at Bartram Trail (St. Johns) yesterday, 2-1, will be the top seed in their district tournament in two weeks and they will host the tournament for the first time since 2007. They’re another team that had struggled coming into the week but they snapped a 4-game losing streak with back-to-back wins against P.K. Yonge and Eastside, or as Coach Souilliard called them ‘confidence games.’ In the district semifinals, the Hurricanes will host Middleburg, a team they swept, with a playoff spot on the line. So GHS is in good shape. The game at Williston will be a good test.

In Class 1A, look out for Williston. They started the year 0-3 and have been around .500 for most of the year, even though they have played up in competition. They beat state-ranked Chipley, 4-0, last Thursday, and won at 7A Vanguard (Ocala), 7-3, last night. They host Chiefland on Tuesday night. The Indians have moved up to the #1 spot in Class 1A, but Williston, winners of seven in a row, are ranked 3rd in the state. They’re both in separate districts but it looks like the road to Fort Myers and a possible state title will still go through Williston. Chiefland did beat Williston 1-0 earlier in the year, but with Austin Langworthy on the mound, the future Gator gives Williston a good chance to get back to SW Florida.

Both games, and all four teams, will be good tests for the postseason. The regional tournaments for baseball will be on Wednesday, April 27 (5A-8A), and Thursday, April 28 (1A-4A).

Catch my high school baseball and softball updates every Wednesday at 4:20 p.m. on WRUF-AM 850 & FM-95.3 Gainesville on The Tailgate with hosts Jeff Cardozo and Adam Schick, as well as ThePrepZone.com Sports Report presented by SunState Federal Credit Union on 104.9 FM in Gainesville.

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