Ridaught: That’s a (spring) wrap

GHS softball coaches and players
Gainesville softball head coach Chris Chronister (far left) and volunteer assistant coach CJ White, along with members of the Class 5A state runner-up Hurricanes, were guests on "The Prep Zone" sports show at Sonic Drive-In on Thursday night.
Courtesy of GHS Softball

The 2023-24 high school sports seasons are officially over, but what a great way to finish.

This past spring, the month of May in particular, there were several individual state champions, and on the final day of the spring season there was a team state champion.

Last Saturday, the Trenton softball team was down to its final out and trailing Branford, 4-0, in the FHSAA Class 1A state championship game.

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However, the Tigers rallied to tie it in the bottom of the seventh inning and then won the game in the bottom of the eighth to win their third state title in the last six years (2019 & 2021).

Sophomore Presley Akins, who we recognized as the Pavlik Orthodontics Athlete of the Week, scored the winning run in the state semifinals, also a walk off win, and drove in the winning run in the Tigers’ state championship game win against Branford, a 5-4 win in eight innings.

It was the second straight loss in the title game for the Buccaneers (24-7), who defeated defending state champion Liberty County in this year’s state semifinals. The Bucs advanced to their third state semifinal in the past four years.

The state champion Tigers (23-2) will be our guests from 7-8 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11, on our final episode of the “The Prep Zone” sports show for the 2023-24 season. You can listen to the show live and, if you miss it, archived on the Mainstreet Daily News website.

GHS, which joined the show last night (Thursday), advanced to its first state championship game since winning the Class 7A state title in 2016.

The Hurricanes (24-5) defeated Archbishop McCarthy (Southwest Ranches) in the Class 5A state semifinals, rallying from an early 2-0 deficit to win 5-2, but then lost a heartbreaker, 3-2 in 8 innings, against defending state champion Parrish Community in the title game.

The Buchholz baseball team advanced to its first final four in program history thanks to a 1-0 win at home against Hagerty (Oviedo) in the Class 6A-Region 1 Final.

In Fort Myers, the Bobcats (24-9) routed Bloomingdale (Valrico), 12-0, in the 6A state semifinals, but Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens) knocked off Buchholz, 10-3, in the 6A title game.

If you missed it, the Buchholz baseball team joined us at Sonic Drive-In on Wednesday, May 22. The show is archived in case you missed it.

The Trenton baseball team also advanced to Fort Myers.

Although the Tigers (13-12) lost to top seed Bozeman (Panama City) in the Class 1A state semifinals, their 4-3 upset win at Newberry on Saturday, May 11, in the 1A-Region 4 Final put them in their first final four since 2018.

That same week during the FHSAA Track & Field state championships, the Buchholz boys’ track and field team finished fifth in the state in Class 4A while the Eastside boys finished just outside the top five at No. 6 in Class 2A.

Among the highlights from the event at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, were four individual state titles.

Buchholz’s Evan Fleming earned the Pavlik Orthodontics Athlete of the Week award for the week of May 13 thanks to a pair of individual state titles.

Fleming’s win in the 1600 (4:14.96) was the first for a Buchholz boy athlete since 1983 and the 800 win (1:54) was the first for a Buchholz boy since 1977.

Eastside’s Kennith Martin, an FAMU signee, took home the gold in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.57 and he was a state runner-up in the 200 (20.99).

Bradford (Starke) senior Elijah Kellum won a state title in the triple jump (13.96m/45′ 9¾”) and he finished fourth in long jump (6.90m/22′ 7¾”).

Here are a just a few other highlights from the spring:

 Oak Hall boys lacrosse advanced to the FHSAA Class 1A-Region 1 Final and just missed a final four appearance with a 9-8 loss at Bolles (Jacksonville).

• The Buchholz boys tennis team lost to eventual state champion Doral Academy in the quarterfinals of the FHSAA Class 4A State Finals at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs.

 Countryside Christian softball made its first postseason in seven years.

 St. Francis Catholic Academy baseball advanced to its first playoff since 2015.

 Williston’s Quinyon Mitchell was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.

 Keystone Heights’ Trey Jeffries won two individual Class 1A state titles in the Olympic & Traditional competition at the FHSAA Boys Weightlifting Finals & helped lead the Indians to a state runner-up finish in the Traditional and a third-place finish in the Olympic competition.

• Suwannee (Live Oak) won a Class 1A state title in both the Olympic & Traditional competition.

• GHS junior Nicholas Tisher joined teammate Jacob Goode as the first lifters in program history to qualify for state in Olympic competition.

 A total of 11 Eastside football players signed National Letters of Intent to play at the college level.

• Buchholz, GHS play inaugural season of girls’ flag football.

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