Class 8A state runner-up Oakleaf (Orange Park) is back on top of the all-classification regional rankings
GAINESVILLE – A total of five teams in The Prep Zone’s coverage area played for a state title last year.
While there were no state champions, there were some who came close.
A few of those teams hope to pick up where they left off last year and finish the job.
In 2018, it took until the final inning of the final game, including a bad bounce, to seal the fate of 2017 Class 8A state champion Oakleaf (Orange Park), denying the Knights of back-to-back state titles.
The nationally-ranked Knights, who had 13 college commits/signees, suffered a 1-0 loss to Hagerty (Oviedo) in the Class 8A state championship game at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach.
This year, Oakleaf is reloading.
According to the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, “these Knights could be devastating in 2019.”
UCF signee Madisyn Davis (18-2, 1.07 last year) and JU signee Cambria Arturo (9-1, 0.88) gives the Knights a solid 1-2 punch in the circle. Offensively, Florida signee 3B Baylee Goddard (.346, 14 doubles), Florida-commit Katie Kistler (.435, 14 doubles, 24 steals) and N.C. State-commit Kaylee Lambrecht (.339, 26 RBI) lead the offense.
That’s why the Knights (7-1) begin on top of the all-classification regional softball rankings. Oakleaf, which is ranked third in Class 8A by Miracle Sports, received four of the five first-place votes.
The other first-place vote belongs to Class 9A Mandarin (Jacksonville), which is ranked second.
The No. 2 team in Class 9A, Mandarin is off to an 8-0 start thanks to a super talented roster which includes seven returnees from last year’s state playoff team. Catcher Hallie Kern (.403 average), a Jacksonville University commit, highlights a team that includes several college signees.
Bartram Trail (St. Johns) is ranked third.
The unbeaten Bears (10-0), who are also ranked 3rd in Class 7A, are another team that always seems to reload.
Three of the top five teams in The Prep Zone Power Poll are seeking a return trip to the state championship game – top-ranked Oakleaf (8A), No. 4 Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (4A) & #5 Trenton (1A).
Fourth-ranked Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville) has wins against 5A #8 West Nassau (Callahan) & 5A #7 Baker County (Glen St. Mary). The Conquerors (8-1) are ranked No. 1 in Class 4A.
Their only loss was to Class 8A #6 East Lake (Tarpon Springs), 5-3. Trinity Christian is seeking its fourth straight appearance in the final four.
Fifth-ranked Trenton, the top-ranked team in Class 1A, is the defending 1A state runner-up. The Tigers (10-0) have wins against No. 16 Bell, at 7A Columbia (Lake City), which is ranked 19th, & at 7A #5 Gainesville, which is ranked sixth.
Matanzas (Palm Coast), East Ridge (Clermont), Eustis, and Dunnellon round out the top 10.
West Nassau, which lost to Coral Springs Charter in last year’s 5A title game, is ranked 14th. The Warriors (6-2) have losses at #4 Trinity Christian & at #13 Baker County, but they also have a win against the Wildcats.
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 Strive Fitness.
The Prep Zone Power Poll – 2019 Softball Poll #1
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, record through March 18, and total voting points)
1. Oakleaf (Orange Park) (8A) (4) (7-1) – 95
2. Mandarin (Jacksonville) (9A) (1) (8-0) – 89
3. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (7A) (10-0) – 87
4. Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville) (4A) (8-1) – 79
5. Trenton (1A) (10-0) – 78
6. Gainesville (7A) (7-1) – 74
7. Matanzas (Palm Coast) (7A) (7-0) – 56
8. East Ridge (Clermont) (8A) (6-1) – 54
9. Eustis (5A) (10-0) – 51
10. Dunnellon (6A) (10-1) – 48
11. Santa Fe (Alachua) (5A) (10-2) – 47
12. Keystone Heights (5A) (8-1) – 43
13. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (5A) (9-2) – 39
14. West Nassau (Callahan) (5A) (6-2) – 36
15. Hernando (Brooksville) (5A) (7-0) – 32
16. Bell (1A) (9-2) – 25
17. Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (9A) (8-3) – 16
18. Mount Dora Christian (2A) (11-1) – 15
19T. Madison County (1A) (6-1) – 14
19T. Columbia (Lake City) (7A) (6-4) – 14
Also receiving votes: Crystal River (6A) (6-1) – 12; Clay (Green Cove Springs) (6A) (6-3) – 11; St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park) (3A) (6-1) – 10; Springstead (Spring Hill) (6A) (7-2) – 9; Episcopal (Jacksonville) (4A) (5-2) – 6; Montverde Academy (4A) (7-3) – 3; Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville) (8A) (5-3) – 2; University Christian (Jacksonville) (3A) (7-2) – 2; Deltona (7A) (7-3) – 2; Fleming Island (Orange Park) (8A) (4-3) – 1.