Ridaught: First FHSAA rankings out for spring sports

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Courtesy of FHSAA

It’s hard to believe, but the regular season is more than halfway over for softball and baseball teams.

This is week six. We’re down to the final four weeks of the regular season.

District tournaments for lacrosse actually begin next weekend (Saturday-Thursday, April 8-13), followed by the flag football district tournaments (Monday-Thursday, April 17-20) and the softball and baseball district tournaments in one month (Monday – Thursday, May 1-4).

Earlier this week the Florida High School Athletic Association released its first spring sports rankings for girls and boys lacrosse, flag football, softball and baseball.

The best baseball team in the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area is Buchholz.

The Bobcats are ranked 11th overall by the FHSAA and third in Class 6A.

They are 9-2 heading into tonight’s game at Lincoln (Tallahassee), which is ranked seventh in Class 5A by MaxPreps.

Buchholz pitcher Anthony Wilkie struck out 11 Bishop Kenny batters in a 6-2 home win on Tuesday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz pitcher Anthony Wilkie is 2-0 from the mound this season.

“First part of the season has gone well,” said Buchholz coach Ron Brooks. “We have battled through some injuries and I’m proud of how we have handled a little adversity.”

The roster is loaded with junior P/1B Anthony Wilkie (2-0, 0.95 ERA), a Clemson commit, junior C Noah Hayse (4 doubles, 8 RBI), UCF commit, junior INF Cooper Collins (.382, 6 doubles, 1 HR), a Davidson commit, senior OF Donny Hiebert (.333, 2 HRs), who will play football at FSU, and junior P/OF Austin Cardozo (2-1, 28 Ks in 21 IP).

But sophomore P/OF JJ Gardner (12 Ks in 12.1 innings pitched, 7 RBI), and sophomore INF Cedaris Smith (.484, team-leading 10 RBI) are making their mark early.

Their district is loaded.

There could be as many as three teams from their district in the postseason this year from their ultra-competitive 6A-District 3 which includes 11-3 Fleming Island (Orange Park) and 13-2 Oakleaf (Orange Park).

The Bobcats’ game against Fleming Island (14th overall and No. 4 in 6A) this past Tuesday was postponed due to weather. The game has been rescheduled for Friday, April 14, at 6 p.m.

The Bobcats will play Oakleaf (24th overall & No. 6 in 6A) on Monday, April 24, at 6 p.m.

We will broadcast both games online at MainStreetDailyNews.com.

The next highest-ranked team in the area is Columbia (Lake City).

The Tigers (13-2), who won at Forest (Ocala), 7-1, last night, are ranked 28th overall by the FHSAA and No. 6 in Class 5A.

Columbia will host Buchholz this Tuesday at 7 p.m. We’ll have ‘live’ audio coverage of the game on our website.

“This is a big stretch coming up in our season as we face some really good teams,” Brooks said. “I’m really happy with our chemistry right now and look forward to watching us compete the rest of the year.”

Keystone Heights breaks the top 75 at No. 73, including 11th in Class 3A. The Indians (9-2), who host Newberry tonight at 7 p.m., travel to Union County (Lake Butler) on Monday.

Lafayette (Mayo) is the highest-ranked 1A team at No. 19 overall but in our coverage area, the highest-ranked team in that classification is the Tigers, who are ranked 82nd overall.

“I think we’re playing ok right now, still trying to figure out some pieces to the puzzle to be firing on all cylinders at the end,” said Union County first-year coach Jiwan James. “Last night’s win was big for us and hopefully it’s something we’ll continue to build on.”

On Thursday night, Union County (9-4) defeated Class 3A Trinity Catholic, 6-5, in Ocala. Sophomore Devin Diggs threw a solid four innings of relief with no runs allowed on just one hit.

“(Key was) scoring runs early in the game and giving Diggs room to just settle in and pitch his game,” James said. “It’s always nice to pitch with a lead. The boys put together some great at bats and battled some pretty good arms but I think the biggest key for me was the energy in the dugout from the first pitch until the last. It’s something I’ve been on them about lately and they brought it last night. Total team win.”

Trenton is not far behind Union County in the FHSAA rankings.

The Tigers (13-2) from Gilchrist County are ranked 134th overall and 8th in Class 1A. They went 2-0 this week following a 5-1 win last night at rival Chiefland and a 1-0 win at Class 5A Gainesville on Tuesday night.

Photo by C.J. Gish Williston’s softball team is at No. 1 in the FHSAA’s recent state rankings.

Williston (14-2) is the top softball team in the area.

The Red Devils, who are ranked No. 1 in the state by MaxPreps, are ranked 35th overall in the FHSAA rankings and on top of all 1A teams in Florida.

The talent is there for the Lady Red Devils, who are hoping to give Williston another state title following the boys basketball team’s first state title in program history on March 3.

Their only two losses are to Dixie County (Cross City), which advanced to its first final four in program history last year.

“The second half of the season is going to be pretty tough for us,’ said Williston coach Carl Williams. “I feel like from running out front the whole season you’re going to have a bullseye on your back. Everybody is going to give you their best game every night so we’ve got to go out there every night prepared for everybody’s best.”

Branford (11-2) is the next highest-ranked team at No. 49 and second in the 1A state rankings, followed by Dixie County (8-4) at No. 71 overall in the FHSAA rankings and 3rd in Class 1A.

Fort White, which also advanced to its first final four last year before losing a heartbreaker in the state championship game, is currently fifth in the 1A state rankings.

In high school lacrosse, the Oak Hall boys (13-1) are ranked 10th in the state and eighth in Class 1A, while the Lady Eagles (8-4) are ranked 42nd in the FHSAA rankings and 25th in 1A.

There are also two classifications in flag football (Class 1A and 2A).

The highest-ranked team in the area is Bradford (Starke). The Tornadoes improved to 9-0 with a 38-0 win at home on Thursday night against FSU High (Tallahassee) and a 52-0 win at previously unbeaten Keystone Heights (5-1) on Tuesday night.

Bradford is 40th overall in the state according to the FHSAA and seventh in 1A-Region 1.

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With the postseason approaching for spring sports, the month of April should be highly competitive.

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