Branford moves into regional softball top 20

Photo credit: Matt_Brown from Getty Images Pro

Last year the Deltona softball team won its first state title in program history, earning them the No. 1 ranking in The Prep Zone Power Poll to start the 2023 season.

The Wolves, who moved up to 5A this season and are still unbeaten five games into the year, were a unanimous No. 1 in this week’s all-classification regional rankings.

Florida Dairy Farmers 4A Player of the Year Katie McCaw has cooled off but is still batting .545, which is second behind sophomore Jaylene Mieres (.643).

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Deltona (5-0), which is ranked fifth in 5A and 39th overall in Florida by MaxPreps, received all 10 first-place votes to remain on top.

Baldwin, which went 4-0 since the last poll, moved up two spots to No. 2.

The Indians (9-0) had wins against Hilliard, RV Sandalwood (Jacksonville), previous No. 7 Middleburg, 3-2, and Bartram Trail (St. Johns). They are ranked fourth in 3A and eighth overall in Florida by MaxPreps.

Class 3A state runners-up Hernando (Brooksville) dropped one spot from second to third.

Florida Dairy Farmers 3A POY Hannah Taylor is batting .639 for the Leopards (9-2), who went 5-2 since the last poll with losses at 6A No. 5 East Lake (Tarpon Springs), 1-0, and vs. 3A No. 3 Berkeley Prep (Tampa), 5-2, at the Baymade Invite tournament. They are currently ranked ninth in 3A and 26th overall.

Eustis, which went 0-2, tumbled five spots from third to eighth. The Panthers lost vs. No. 5 Spruce Creek (Port Orange), 3-1, and at 7A No.1 Lake Brantley (Altamonte Springs), 3-0. They are ranked sixth in 4A and 45th overall.

Class 2A University Christian (Jacksonville) (5-0) and Spruce Creek (4-1) round out the top five.

Providence (Jacksonville) is ranked sixth, followed by No. 7 West Nassau (Callahan), Eustis, Clay (Green Cove Springs) and East Ridge (Clermont) in the top 10.

Class 1A Branford (9-1) moves into the top 20 at No. 18.

Their only loss this season was against No. 14 Dixie County (Cross City), 6-5. The Bucs have wins at No. 15 Fort White, 12-1, and at RV Suwannee (Live Oak), 3-1. They are ranked second in 1A and 49th overall.

Unbeaten Flagler Palm Coast (7-0) is also new to the rankings at No. 20 following a 4-0 mark since the last ranking. They are ranked 11th in 7A and 35th overall in Florida by MaxPreps.

Class 5A Ridgeview (Orange Park) (5-5) and 6A South Lake (Groveland) (3-4) dropped out of the rankings but both are still receiving votes.

Branford is one of four teams in the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area which is ranked in the top 20.

Williston, which is ranked No. 1 in 1A and 31st overall, went 8-1 since the last poll and moved up three spots from 14th to No. 11.

The Red Devils (13-2) have wins against 3A Santa Fe (Alachua), at RV Suwannee (Live Oak), vs. RV Columbia (Lake City), No. 9 Clay (Green Cove Springs), 6A Lake Gibson (Lakeland), and at 3A Dunnellon.

Both of their losses this season have come to current No. 14 Dixie County, including a 7-5 loss at home last Tuesday.

Fort White (6-4), which is fifth in 1A and 116th overall, is ranked just behind the Bears (7-4) at No. 15.

The Indians dropped six spots from ninth after going 3-3 with wins against Matanzas (Palm Coast), Chiefland, and at Lafayette (Mayo). They lost vs. current No. 18 Branford, 12-1, vs. RV Paxon (Jacksonville), and vs. Bartram Trail (St. Johns), 4-2, at the Tournament of Champions at Oakleaf (Orange Park).

Class 5A Columbia (8-3) and 3A Suwannee (8-2) are both receiving votes.

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 by sportswriters and sportscasters and it is powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville.


(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, record through 3/18, and total voting points)

Teams in bold are inside the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area.

1. Deltona (5A) (10) (5-0) – 200

2. Baldwin (3A) (9-0) – 183

3. Hernando (Brooksville) (3A) (9-2) – 167

4. University Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (5-0) – 163

5. Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (7A) (4-1) – 149

6. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (6-1) – 148

7. West Nassau (Callahan) (3A) (7-1) – 136

8. Eustis (4A) (6-2) – 131

9. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (5A) (7-3) – 106

10. East Ridge (Clermont) (7A) (9-3) – 103

11. Williston (1A) (13-2) – 101

12. Episcopal (Jacksonville) (3A) (8-1) – 91

13. Ponte Vedra (5A) (6-0-1) – 71

14. Dixie County (Cross City) (1A) (7-4) – 58

15T. Creekside (St. Johns) (7A) (6-3) – 39

15T. Fort White (1A) (6-4) – 39

17. Middleburg (5A) (5-4) – 38

18. Branford (1A) (9-1) – 33

19. South Sumter (Bushnell) (3A) (5-2) – 30

20. Flagler Palm Coast (7A) (7-0) – 28

Also receiving votes: Suwannee (Live Oak) (3A) (8-2) – 15; The Villages (3A) (9-0) – 13; Columbia (Lake City) (5A) (8-3) – 13; South Lake (Groveland) (6A) (3-4) – 8; Sandalwood (Jacksonville) (7A) (5-1) – 7; Ridgeview (Orange Park) (5A) (5-5) – 7; Paxon (Jacksonville) (4A) (6-2) – 6; Crystal River (3A) (9-3) – 5; Mount Dora Christian Academy (2A) (6-3) – 5; Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (4A) (6-3) – 3; St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park) (2A) (4-0) – 3; Vanguard (Ocala) (4A) (5-1) – 1.

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