Gainesville — District tournament play brought some surprises for the teams in the Prep Zone Power Poll. The top two teams remain the same as regional play begins this week, but one team in last week’s top five saw their season come to an end.
Belleview was ranked third in the last poll two weeks ago, and entered the District 5-6A tournament as the #1 seed. But the Rattlers were upset by #4 seed South Lake (Groveland) 10-3 in the district semifinals, ending their season. Belleview (19-6) did stay in the poll this week but dropped 12 spots to #15.
Oakleaf (Orange Park) remains the #1 team this week, after rolling to wins over First Coast (Jacksonville) 10-0 and Atlantic Coast (Jacksonville) 3-0 to win the District 2-8A championship. The Knights (23-2) also knocked off then-#7 Baker County (Glen St. Mary) and then-#18 Mandarin (Jacksonville) to close the regular season after suffering their second loss of the season, 7-5 in 9 innings to then-#13 West Nassau (Callahan) back on April 4.
Oakleaf received five of the eight first place votes this week and will open Region 1-8A play on Wednesday against Lincoln (Tallahassee).
Close behind Oakleaf is Gainesville, which received the other three first-place votes and remains #2 after rolling through the District 3-7A title. The Purple Hurricanes (23-2) defeated Middleburg 5-2 in the semifinals and Columbia (Lake City) 9-1 to clinch the district title, and will open Region 1-7A play on Wednesday at home against Creekside (St. Augustine).
South Sumter (Bushnell) captured District 6-5A title with a thrilling 6-5 extra inning win over RV Eustis, and moved up to third to replace Belleview this week. The Raiders (20-2) open up Region 3-5A play against Keystone Heights on Wednesday.
Deltona (22-3) is #4 this week. The Wolves knocked off New Smyrna Beach 5-2 to clinch the District 5-7A title and move up a spot as well to fourth. Deltona opens with Harmony in 7A-Region 3 quarterfinals Wednesday.
Rounding out the top five is Springstead (Spring Hill). Springstead (25-1) moves up three spots from #8 to the top five this week after defeating Lecanto and Crystal River to capture the District 6-6A tourney. The Eagles also open up Wednesday in the 6A-Region 3 quarterfinals against North Marion (Citra).
Two-time defending 1A state champion Chiefland rolled to the District 7-1A title with easy wins over Bell and Trenton and continues to lead off the second five. The Indians (24-1) open their shot at a three-peat Thursday against Frostproof.
Baker County (Glen St. Mary) remains 7th this week after winning the district 3-5A tournament championship game at #12 Suwannee (Live Oak). The defending 5A state champion Wildcats open regional play against Yulee on Wednesday.
Rounding out the top 10 is Clay (Green Cove Springs) in 8th, Spruce Creek (Port Orange) at #9, and Nature Coast (Brooksville) 10th. All three teams captured district crowns, as Clay (21-4) moved up one position, Spruce Creek (18-5) two spots, and Nature Coast (23-4) the big mover up this week, climbing four spots into the top ten this week.
Other than Belleview, the other big surprise among teams not making it out of the district tournament semifinal round this week is last year’s 4A state runner-up West Nassau. The Warriors saw their season end in a 6-3 loss to rival Yulee in the District 4-5A semifinals, and dropped from #13 two weeks ago to out of the poll this week.
Also dropping out this week is Fort White (17-2), who dropped the District 6-1A title game to Union County (Lake Butler) 3-1, just six days after losing their first game in their last regular season game at home against the Tigers. Fort White does qualify for regional play though, and will open up on Thursday at #17 Lafayette (Mayo). The Hornets (19-8) won the District 5-1A crown.
Moving into this poll this week is Union County at 18th, Oak Hall (Gainesville), who is now #19 after taking the District 2-3A tournament title this week, and Bartram Trail (St. Johns), who is now tied for 20th with rival Creekside (St. Johns). The Bears (15-11) struggled through most of the regular season, but knocked off the rival Knights 4-1 last week to clinch the District 4-7A title and move into the poll for the first time this season.
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 – 2016 SOFTBALL POLL #8
(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, record through 4/16, and total voting points)
1. Oakleaf (Orange Park) (8A) (5) (23-2) – 157
2. Gainesville (7A) (3) (23-2) – 155
3. South Sumter (Bushnell) (5A) (20-2) – 142
4. Deltona (7A) (22-3) – 134
5. Springstead (Spring Hill) (6A) (25-1) – 129
6. Chiefland (1A) (24-1) – 125
7. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (5A) (19-6) – 115
8. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (6A) (21-4) – 107
9. Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (9A) (18-5) – 91
10. Nature Coast (Brooksville) (5A) (23-4) – 81
11. Ponte Vedra (6A) (18-7) – 66
12. Suwannee (Live Oak) (5A) (18-6) – 62
13. Forest (Ocala) (8A) (16-10) – 60
14. Aucilla Christian (Monticello) (2A) (17-5) – 57
15. Belleview (6A) (19-5) – 52
16. Mandarin (Jacksonville) (9A) (19-4) – 49
17. Lafayette (Mayo) (1A) (19-8) – 31
18. Union County (Lake Butler) (1A) (18-3) – 15
19. Oak Hall (Gainesville) (3A) (17-4) – 11
20T Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (7A) (15-11) – 10
20T Creekside (St. Johns) (7A) (12-8) – 10
Also receiving votes: West Nassau (Callahan) (5A) (18-8) – 9, Eustis (5A) (17-5) – 8; Fort White (1A) (17-2) – 6; Montverde Academy (4A) (18-6) – 4; Paxon (Jacksonville) (6A) (17-6) – 3; South Lake (Groveland) (6A) (13-12) – 1.