Three area teams crack top 20


The high school softball season enters its second week of the regular season and there are three area teams who are ranked in the top 20 of The Prep Zone Power Poll, which ranks the top 20 teams regardless of classification across 26 counties. 

Fort White is ranked ninth, followed by No. 14 Williston, and No. 17 Dixie County (Cross City).

All three are Class 1A schools who have a lot of success over the past year.

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The 9th-ranked Indians (16-8) advanced to their first final four in program history last year. Fort White defeated Dixie County (Cross City) in the state semifinals, 7-5, before losing a heartbreaker to Jay in the title game.

Meanwhile, the Bears (21-5), who were also making their first state semifinal appearance, are tied for 17th with South Sumter (Bushnell), and Episcopal (Jacksonville) in the top 20. Last year, Dixie County had to rally past two-time defending state champion Trenton with three runs in the 7th inning of the region semifinal game to win, 6-5.

The Lady Red Devils (18-8) have won six in a row since a season-opening 3-2 loss at Dixie County, including a 4-2 win at RV Suwannee (Live Oak), a 3-2 win at No. 12 Clay (Green Cove Springs), and a 4-2 win vs. Columbia (Lake City) this past Saturday.

In addition to Columbia and Suwannee, Class 3A Keystone Heights, and 1A schools Trenton and Union County (Lake Butler) are receiving votes.

The Class 3A regional finalist Indians lost three in a row to start the season (3-1 to 4A state semifinalist Clay, 7-5 to 4A regional quarterfinalist Baker County, and 9-4 to 5A regional quarterfinalist Ridgeview) but then won two in a row against Tocoi Creek and 1A regional finalist Taylor (Pierson).

Kiley Channell
Photo by C.J. Gish Keystone Heights’ Kiley Channell

Florida Atlantic signee Kiley Channell (.404, 29 RBI, 8 extra-base hits), an All Area selection last year, should have Keystone Heights in the mix again for another postseason bid

Meanwhile, Trenton already has wins against No. 12 Clay (Green Cove Springs), 3-1, and 1A regional finalist Union County (Lake Butler), 14-5.

But at the top, following its first state title in program history, the Deltona softball team is once again ranked No. 1.

The Wolves, who finished 20-3 last year, received all 10 first-place votes to start the season where they left off in 2022, at the top of The Prep Zone Power Poll.

Deltona, which moved up to 5A this season, is off to a 4-0 start with wins against 7A regional semifinalist Apopka, 6-4, and 7A regional quarterfinalist Timber Creek (Orlando), 4-0.

Senior Katie McCaw (Florida Dairy Farmers 4A Player of the Year) is batting .714 & sophomore Jaylene Mieres is batting .636 for a team that is hitting .457 through four games.

Class 3A state runners-up Hernando (Brooksville) is ranked second in the all-classification regional rankings.

The Leopards (25-5), who lost the 4A state title game to Eustis two years ago, dropped down to 3A last year and got back to the state championship game, falling 7-4 to Calvary Christian (Clearwater).

Hernando (4-0) lost three key starters on offense to graduation, but they have a solid 1-2 punch in the circle (Ava Braswell and Savannah Ellis) who were 25-5 and combined for 178 strikeouts last season.

They’ve outscored their four opponents, 57-5, so far. Ellis is batting a whopping .786, plus catcher Hannah Taylor (Florida Dairy Farmers 3A POY) is batting .714.

Eustis, which was denied a chance to repeat as state champions with a 4-3 loss to Deltona in last year’s 4A region final, is ranked third.

The Panthers (25-3) are off to a 6-0 start heading into the week. They defeated 7A regional quarterfinalist Lake Mary, 1-0, and 7A regional semifinalist Windermere, 2-1.

Junior Ciara Maple and freshman Taryne Thomas are both batting .600 for a team that is hitting .356 and has a team ERA of 0.99.

Class 3A state semifinalist Baldwin (26-3) is fourth.

The Indians (5-0) have wins against 4A regional quarterfinalist Baker County (Glen St. Mary), 3-1, and Class 1A state runner-up Fort White, 11-1. The pieces are in place to make another run.

Rounding out the top five is University Christian (Jacksonville).

The Fightin’ Christians, Class 2A state runners-up the past two seasons, are seeking their third straight final four. UCS (3-0) has wins against defending 5A state champion Middleburg, 7-5, and 7A Bartram Trail (St. Johns), 12-0.

Spruce Creek (Port Orange) leads off the second five at No. 6.

They are followed by Middleburg, Providence (Jacksonville), Fort White, and West Nassau (Callahan) in the top 10.

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, 2022 final record, current record through 3/3, and top results)

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

1. Deltona (5A) (10) (20-3) (4-0) – 200

2. Hernando (Brooksville) (3A) (25-5) (4-0) – 181

3. Eustis (4A) (25-3) (6-0) – 176

4. Baldwin (3A) (26-3) (5-0) – 172

5. University Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (19-9) (3-0) – 155

6. Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (7A) (21-5) (3-1) – 151

7. Middleburg (5A) (20-11) (3-2) – 136

8. Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (19-7) (4-1) – 116

9. Fort White (1A) (16-8) (3-1) – 108

10. West Nassau (Callahan) (3A) (16-8) (2-1) – 102

11. South Lake (Groveland) (6A) (19-12) (2-2) – 97

12. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (5A) (17-12) (4-2) – 93

13. East Ridge (Clermont) (7A) (19-9) (4-2) – 67

14. Williston (1A) (18-8) (5-1) – 48

15. Ridgeview (Orange Park) (5A) (14-7) (3-2) – 43

16. Creekside (St. Johns) (7A) (16-10) (4-1) – 31

17T. Dixie County (Cross City) (1A) (21-5) (3-3) – 27

17T. South Sumter (Bushnell) (3A) (17-10) (3-1) – 27

17T. Episcopal (Jacksonville) (3A) (14-8) (5-0) – 27

20. Ponte Vedra (5A) (13-13) (6-0) – 26

Also receiving votes: Mount Dora Christian Academy (2A) (20-10) (4-1) – 24; University (Orange City) (7A) (20-8) (2-3) – 19; Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (4A) (12-12) (4-1) – 18; Columbia (Lake City) (5A) (4-17) (4-0) – 13; Oakleaf (Orange Park) (6A) (17-8) (1-3) – 9; Keystone Heights (3A) (19-10) (2-3) – 8Trenton (1A) (10-12) (4-1-1) – 7; Vanguard (Ocala) (4A) (16-10) (5-0) – 7; Suwannee (Live Oak) (3A) (9-13) (5-1) – 4Union County (Lake Butler) (1A) (18-6) (1-3) – 3; Montverde Academy (3A) (17-9) (2-3) – 3; West Port (Ocala) – 1; Taylor (Pierson) (1A) (14-6) (4-2) – 1.

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