Fort White earns first district title

It’s been a year of firsts for Fort White girls sports programs.

Fort White's Gracie Clemons celebrates 2-run double in 2nd inning
Fort White’s Gracie Clemons celebrates a two-run double in the second inning on Thursday.

In February, the Indians basketball team claimed its first ever district title and, on Thursday night, Fort White’s softball team joined the party earning its first district championship in an 11-0 victory over Branford.

The third-seeded Indians (13-7) opened the first inning with Kadence Compton launching a two-run homer over the left field wall.

Fort White, which racked up 14 hits from seven batters, added another two runs in the second inning and one run in the third and fourth innings for a 6-0 lead. 

“One through nine [batters] put the ball in play, I could not ask for anything better,” said Fort White coach Chad Padgett, who co-head coaches the team with his wife, Michelle. “The girls in the dugout were cheering, they were loud all night, they were pumped. We said at the beginning of the year, top to bottom, this is the best talent we’ve ever had here and we just proved it.”

Meanwhile, No. 4 seed Branford (13-6), struggled throughout the contest with only three hits. That, in large part, came because of Compton’s shutdown pitching for the Indians. Compton struck out five Buccaneers batters on the night and Fort White’s defense played strong behind her.

In the fifth inning, the Indians scored twice to go up 8-0. Then Ciara Byrd stepped up to the plate with two runners on base and ended the game with a walk-off home run due to the 10-run mercy rule. 

Branford's Joslyn Barrs drops ball and Fort White's Kaitlyn Suggs safe at 2b
Branford’s Joslyn Barrs mishandles the ball and Fort White’s  Kaitlyn Suggs is safe at second base. 

It marked the third time this season the two teams faced off, with Fort White winning 3-1 on March 1 and 8-2 on April 13. 

“This game is so much mental as skill,” Branford coach Oscar Saavedra said. “I’ve always said 90% mental and 10% skill. And every time we face Fort White, I don’t care, we’ve played top teams and beat them into the ground, but against Fort White, my whole team shuts down.”

Saavedra gave credit to Compton’s pitching performance.

“[Compton] pitches 53 miles an hour and everybody chases,” he said. “But it’s easier said than done. It is what it is and I congratulate [Fort White], they earned it. My hat’s off to them. We had it last year and it’s a great feeling.”

Other area district champions included Gainesville (5A-District 4), Keystone Heights (3A-District 3), and Dixie County (Cross City) in 1A-District 7.

Seeding for the regional semifinal round will be announced this weekend.

SOFTBALL

Thursday, May 5 – District championship scores (teams covered by Mainstreet in bold)

5A-District 4 

No. 1 Gainesville 15, No. 2 Vanguard (Ocala) 8

3A-District 3 

No. 1 Keystone Heights 12, No. 3 Santa Fe (Alachua) 2 (5)

2A-District 4 

No. 1 Peniel Baptist Academy (Palatka) 13, No. 3 St. Francis Catholic Academy (Gainesville) 3

Class 1A-District 5 

No. 2 Madison County 7, No. 1 Union County (Lake Butler) 4

Class 1A-District 6 

No. 3 Fort White 11, No. 4 Branford 0 (5)

Class 1A-District 7 

No. 1 Dixie County (Cross City) 4, No. 2 Trenton 0

Class 1A-District 8 

No. 2 Taylor (Pierson) 7, No. 1 Williston 6

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