Coaches Padgett, Wimberley finish in top three

This past season the Fort White and Dixie County (Cross City) softball teams advanced to their first final four in program history.

Following a balloting by a statewide panel of high school softball coaches and prep media representatives, the pair were recognized for their achievements.

Fort White, which lost to Jay in the Class 1A state championship game last month, finished 16-8 under the husband and wife coaching team of Michele and Chad Padgett. The state runner-up Indians also finished 11th in the regional all-classification rankings.

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Michele, who was nominated for Class 1A Coach of the Year, finished second in the voting behind Jay’s 17-year coach Brian Watson, who led his squad to a 22-5 record and the school’s first state championship. 

Dixie County softball coach Greg Wimberley
Dixie County softball coach Greg Wimberley led the Bears to a 22-5 record and the program’s first Class 1A state semifinals appearance. 

Dixie County coach Greg Wimberley finished third in the voting after leading the Bears (21-5) to the state semifinals, where they lost to Fort White, 7-5, at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont.

Fort White’s Kadence Compton finished third in the voting for the 1A Player of the Year.

The freshman went 16-6 in the circle with a 1.66 ERA. She finished with 212 strikeouts in 144 innings pitched. 

Compton, who struck out 14 in the region final win against Union County (Lake Butler), also led the team with a .388 batting average, 31 hits, 18 runs batted in, and four home runs, including the game-winning home run in the state semifinals.

Every finalist was the leading vote-getter in their classification, making each one the Player of the Year or Coach of the Year in their class. The two overall winners will be announced on Wednesday, June 15th, following a final round of balloting by coaches and media.

Following are the Miss Softball Award finalists:

Ella Dodge, Junior, Pitcher, Lakewood Ranch (Bradenton), Class 7A Player of the Year

Dodge helped her team to the state title with a 25-2 record. She had a 1.02 ERA in 152 innings with 219 strikeouts and only 24 walks.

Jasmine Francik, Sophomore, Pitcher, Melbourne, Class 6A Player of the Year

Francik helped her team to the state title with a 19-1 record. She had an 0.16 ERA in 130 innings with 251 strikeouts and only 19 walks. She allowed only three earned runs all season.

Mallory Forrester, Senior, Pitcher, Middleburg, Class 5A Player of the Year

Forrester helped her squad to the state title with a 13-5 record. She had a 1.08 ERA in 136 innings with 271 strikeouts and 53 walks. She has signed with Flagler College.

Katie McCaw, Junior, Pitcher, Deltona, Class 4A Player of the Year

McCaw helped her team to the state title with a 17-3 record. She had a 1.24 ERA in 118 innings with 177 strikeouts and 31 walks.

Hannah Taylor, Junior, Catcher, Hernando (Brooksville), Class 3A Player of the Year

Taylor helped her team to a state runner-up finish by batting .484 with 16 doubles, 5 triples, 6 home runs, 26 runs scored and 51 runs batted in.

Luna Curran, Senior, Pitcher, Oxbridge Academy, Class 2A Player of the Year

Curran helped her team to a spot in the state Final Four with a 22-2 record. She had an 0.25 ERA in 137 innings with 299 strikeouts. She hit .470 with 12 doubles, 6 home runs, 19 runs scored and 46 runs batted in.

Alayna Lowery, Senior, Pitcher, Jay, Class 1A Player of the Year

Led her team to the state title with a 14-1 record. She had a 2.35 ERA in 89 innings with 84 strikeouts. She had a .484 batting average with 8 doubles, 14 home runs, 19 runs scored and 41 runs batted in

Following are the Softball Coach of the Year finalists:

T.J. Goelz, Lakewood Ranch (Bradenton), Class 7A Coach of the Year

Led his squad to a 30-2 record and second straight state title. In five years he has posted a 122-10 record with a Final Four appearance (2018), a state runner up finish (2019) and two state titles.

Dan Edel, Melbourne, Class 6A Coach of the Year

After taking over as head coach in midseason, Edel’s team finished with a 26-2-1 record on the way to the state championship. 

Ashley Houston, Middleburg, Class 5A Coach of the Year

Led her squad to a 20-11 record and the school’s first state title by winning the final nine games of the season. In four years Houston has posted a 51-45 record. 

Lindsay Ingram, Deltona, Class 4A Coach of the Year

Led her squad to a 20-3 record and the school’s first state title. In 18 years at Deltona, Ingram has posted a 301-105-1 record. 

Dion Weaver, Clearwater Calvary Christian, Class 3A Coach of the Year

In his first year at Calvary, Weaver led his squad to a 24-6 record and the school’s first state title. In 12 years as a head coach, Weaver has posted a 149-91 record.  

Kaley Bitterman-Gangelhoff, The First Academy (Orlando), Class 2A Coach of the Year

Led her team to a 23-6 record and the school’s first state title. In six years at TFA, she has posted a 104-50 record.

Brian Watson, Jay, Class 1A Coach of the Year

Led his squad to a 22-5 record and the school’s first state championship. In 17 years, Watson has a 332-103 record with three state runner-up finishes (2014-15-21) at Jay before winning the title this season.

Fort White Kadence Compton after hitting 2-run HR against Union County in regional championship
Fort White freshman Kadence Compton, celebrating a two-run homer in the regional championship, finished third in voting for the Class 1A Player of the Year. 

Final voting numbers by class listed below:

Class 7A

Player, School, Points     

Ella Dodge, Lakewood Ranch, 107          

Cassidy McLellan, Lakewood Ranch, 65          

Hannah Marlen, Lake Brantley, 63     

Coach, School, Points

T.J. Goelz, Lakewood Ranch, 139

Jacob Stanley, Lake Brantley, 83

Joe DellaRocca, Park Vista, 50

Class 6A

Player, School, Points    

Jasmine Francik, Melbourne, 129           

Katelynn Oxley, Bartow, 63      

Alyssa Zabala, Doral Academy, 43       

Coach,  School, Points

Dan Edel, Melbourne, 140

Willie Viruet, Doral Academy, 68

Enrique Eligio, Pace, 41

Class 5A

Player, School, Points   

Mallory Forrester, Middleburg, 98      

Macy Miles, Naples, 64      

Kathyria Garcia-Soto, Jefferson, 47      

Coach, School, Points

Ashley Houston, Middleburg, 129

Kahley Armstrong, South Lake, 76

Scott Angelico, Naples, 57

Class 4A

Player, School, Points   

Katie McCaw, Deltona,  97                     

Emma Wood, Matanzas, 37      

Yahaira Williams, Key West, 29    

Coach, School, Points

Lindsay Ingram, Deltona, 125

Mike Settle, Lake Wales, 73

Jason Garcia, Key West, 47                                                                                                 

Class 3A

Player, School, Points   

Hannah Taylor, Hernando, 76      

Morgen Talley, Calvary Christian, 64           

Hannah Church, Berkeley Prep, 46       

Coach, School, Points

Dion Weaver, Calvary Christian, 105

Kevin Bittinger, Hernando, 99

Jennifer Shields, Baldwin, 57

Class 2A

Player, School, Points  

Luna Curran, Oxbridge Academy, 114     

Hannah Harper, The First Academy, 83     

Sophia Kardatzke, University Christian, 56     

Coach, School, Points

Kaley Gangelhoff, The First Academy, 127

Keith Stroud, University Christian, 84

Kevin Drake, Oxbridge Academy, 59     

Class 1A

Player, School, Points 

Alayna Lowery, Jay, 113    

Haley Guffey, Wewahitchka, 67    

Kadence Compton, Fort White, 46    

Coach, School, Points

Brian Watson, Jay, 129

Michele Padgett, Fort White, 88

Greg Wimberley, Dixie County, 54

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