The Buchholz baseball team is just one win away from its first final four in program history.
This past Saturday, the Bobcats defeated visiting Mosley (Lynn Haven), 7-2, in the regional semifinals.
That sets the stage for tonight’s FHSAA Class 6A-Region 1 Final as No. 2 seed Buchholz hosts No. 8 seed Winter Springs. The game will be broadcast online (audio only) at MainStreetDailyNews.com with Marty Pallman and Santa Fe (Alachua) coach Travis Yeckring calling the action beginning at 6:50 p.m.
The first pitch is at 7 p.m.
Winter Springs (18-9-1) had one of the biggest upsets in the state tournament with a 10-4 win at 6A No. 1 and nationally ranked Pace (#20 MaxPreps Xcellent Rankings) on May 10 in the regional quarterfinals. They also pounded Leon (Tallahassee), 14-3, in Saturday’s regional semifinals.
The Bears’ win at Pace opened the door for Buchholz to host tonight’s game as the highest seed remaining in the region.
“Going to be a great atmosphere tonight,” said Buchholz coach Ron Brooks. “Both teams are playing with a lot of confidence and swinging the bats well.”
The visiting Bears have gone 13-4-1 since a 5-5 start. Winter Springs has hit four home runs in two regional games.
Stetson signee Logan Hughes (.350) leads the team with 35 runs batted in and seven home runs. The highly-rated first baseman hit a home run and had six RBI against Leon.
Catcher Jacob McKenzie (FIU commit) hit his first home run of the season against Pace and finished with three hits and three RBI.
Buchholz (21-6) counters with sophomore Cedaris Smith, who leads the team with a .440 average and 23 RBI, and leadoff hitter Donny Hiebert (.349, 10 stolen bases), who was 3-for-4 with two runs scored on Saturday.
Clemson commit Anthony Wilkie, who will get the start tonight on the mound, leads the team with a 1.15 ERA. He is 6-1 with 61 strikeouts and only 11 walks in 42.2 innings pitched.
Brooks said there are a couple of keys to defeating the visiting Bears, who have scored 10 or more runs in three of their last four games.
“We are going to need to play great defense tonight and not give extra outs,” he said. We are looking forward to a great start from Wilkie and can't wait to feed off the atmosphere in our home park.”
In Green Cove Springs, No. 2 seed Columbia (Lake City) travels to top seed Clay for a Class 5A-Region 1 Final. The Tigers (23-5) advanced on Saturday with a walk-off grand slam by UCF signee Josh Fernald (.357, 30 RBI, six doubles, six triples, three HR) in an 8-4 win against Lincoln (Tallahassee).
Columbia is batting .335 as a team, led by senior Hayden Gustavson (.438, team-leading 31 RBI), Fernald, and sophomore Ayden Phillips (.470, 24 RBI). The Tigers’ pitching staff has a combined ERA of 2.66.
Clay (23-6), which is seeking its first final four since 2018, is led by sophomore Cole Carnell (.416, team-leading four triples) at the plate and they have five pitchers who have an ERA below 1.93.
The Blue Devils have stolen 70 bases this year.
Softball: Dixie County (Cross City) at Williston (Class 1A-Region 4 Final) – Will the third time be the charm for the Williston softball team?
The host Red Devils are 26-2 this season but both losses have been to the Bears.
In last Thursday’s Class 1A-Region 4 Semifinals, top seed Williston cruised to a 15-0 win against No. 4 Newberry in four innings. Senior Cheyenne Boggs led the Red Devils with three RBI and finished 2-for-3 with a double.
In the other Region 4 semifinal, No. 2 seed Dixie County eliminated No. 3 Trenton, 3-1, scoring three runs in the third inning and ending the Tigers’ season at 16-9.
Williston lost at Dixie County, 3-2, in the season opener. They reeled off 11 straight before falling at home to the Bears, 7-5, on March 14.
Junior Nevaeh Hayes leads the team with a .440 average, 40 hits and 14 doubles. As a team, the Red Devils are batting .371 with 64 doubles, 18 triples, and 32 home runs.
Hayes (5-1, 2.11 ERA) and sophomore Makenna Boyd (7-1, 1.37 ERA) lead a pitching staff that has a 2.18 ERA.
Meanwhile, the Bears are 20-5 and winners of nine in a row since a 2-1 loss to Branford in eight innings.
Dixie County is led by senior Peyton Hatcher (.521) at the plate. She leads the team with 38 hits, 24 RBI, and 16 doubles. Senior Bria Hinkle leads the Bears in the circle with a 20-4 record, a sparkling 1.36 ERA, and she has 186 strikeouts and only 20 walks in 144 innings pitched.
Branford, which is the top seed in Region 3, is hosting No. 3 seed Aucilla Christian (Monticello) tonight with a chance to advance to Monday’s final four in Clermont.
In the Class 3A-Region 2 Semifinal, No. 5 seed Santa Fe (Alachua) travels to No. 1 seed Hernando (Brooksville).
The Raiders (16-9) advanced to the semifinal round after a 1-0 home win over Crystal River on Thursday in the quarterfinals. Freshman Sarah Burns racked up 17 strikeouts in the victory.
For the season, Santa Fe is batting .384 as a team with three players hitting .500 or better led by sophomore J’lyn Guyden (.560, 37 hits, 22 runs and 26 RBI), freshman Maddie Crosby (.550, 44 hits, 29 runs, 27 RBI) and sophomore Grace Mattson (.544, 43 hits, 30 runs, 24 RBI).
Hernando (23-4) has a .389 team batting average led by senior Hannah Taylor (.556, 50 hits, 46 runs, 47 RBI and 16 HR). In the circle, the Leopards have a team ERA of 1.60 with junior Ava Braswell striking out 194 in 112 innings pitched this season while allowing 24 runs.
Tuesday, May 16 - All games at 7 p.m. unless noted
Class 1A-Region 3 Final
3 Aucilla Christian (Monticello) at 1 Branford
Class 1A-Region 4 Final
2 Dixie County (Cross City) at 1 Williston
Class 3A-Region 2 Semifinal
5 Santa Fe (Alachua) at 1 Hernando (Brooksville)
2 Columbia (Lake City) at 1 Clay (Green Cove Springs)
Class 6A-Region 1 Final
8 Winter Springs at 2 Buchholz – Game will be broadcast online (audio only) at MainStreetDailyNews.com beginning at 6:50 p.m.
Wednesday, May 17
Class 1A state semifinals - Hammond Stadium (Fort Myers)
2 Newberry vs. 3 Chipley, 10 a.m.