First-year coach has Saints on playoff cusp

Last year, Santa Fe softball coach Lindsay Fico stepped down as head coach to take a Division I job with Mercer University.

This past August, another coach with D-I coaching experience, Savanah Webster, became the fourth head coach in program history.

Webster, who recently served as an assistant coach at Winthrop University, has led the Saints to an overall record of 31-17 and a 13-7 mark in the Mid-Florida Conference.

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“It’s been up, and it’s been down, but I’m thankful to have the athletic department that I have and the support staff, I couldn’t do it without them,” she said. “I got blessed with great players and I share the same mindset and want to get better. I want to have a good culture here and that’s to win and they’re doing a great job with it.”

She’s been winning with local athletes with a roster filled with area players.

“It’s probably most of our roster,” Webster said. “It’s huge. I think when you want support, and you want to get your community involved and you want people to come out, I think it’s important to recruit locally and we have a really good source of local kids that have a lot of talent and we’re going to continue to do that. If we can get them to stay home, that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”

Trenton’s Keeli Zingaro is batting .380 and leads the team with 13 doubles, while Columbia’s (Lake City) Story Giebeig is hitting .356 with a team-leading 11 home runs and 56 runs batted in.

In the circle, last year’s Miss Softball, Darian Ingram, who helped lead Trenton to its second straight state title, leads the team with 11 complete games. She is 12-7 with a 2.47 earned run average and she has struck out 139 batters in 116.1 innings.

Other area players include “the heartbeat of the team,” Jayelyn Carter of GHS (.364), Riley Schnyder of Newberry (.331), Ayanna Woodard and Addison Joseph (.308) of GHS, Adrianna Saavedra (Branford), Taniah Bowers (Trenton), and Calen Hayes (Santa Fe).

All the Saints need to do now is win two games to make it back to the Division I FCSAA State/NJCAA South Atlantic District Tournament in Longwood (May 6-9).

SF will host Seminole State College today for a doubleheader at 2 and 4 p.m. in a best-of-3 series, with the winner advancing as Mid-Florida runners-up. An “if necessary” game would be played on Friday at 2 p.m.

The College of Central Florida (16-4) won the regular-season title and clinched a spot.

“I think it’s huge,” Webster said. “The kids are locked in and ready to go, they’re excited, prepared, and we’re thankful to be in the situation that we get the opportunity to compete.”

Webster said the key will be pitching.

“They have a good staff, we have a good staff and I think that when it comes down to it, it’s going to be who bends first and I think our kids are in that moment where we’re tough and resilient and I think we’ll get it done.”

The series is tied 2-2 between the two teams with each team sweeping at home. The Saints are 20-4 at home this season.

You can watch the games online via the Saints Sports Network.

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