There’s plenty of softball and baseball postseason action tonight as a total of six teams in the Mainstreet coverage area are still alive for a state championship.
At least one team is guaranteed a spot in next week’s softball final four at Legends Way Ball Fields in Clermont.
The winner of tonight’s Class 1A-Region 3 Final between top seed Fort White and No. 3 seed Union County (Lake Butler) will advance to the Class 1A state semifinals.
It will be the rubber match between the host Indians (14-7) and the visiting Tigers (18-5).
Union County, which won the Class 1A state title in 2017, defeated Fort White at home, 2-1, in the season opener on Feb. 22. The Indians won the second meeting, 4-1, at Fort White on April 1.
Dixie County, which is ranked second in the state in 1A by MaxPreps, is the top seed in 1A-Region 4 and will host No. 2 seed Taylor (Pierson), which eliminated Williston, 8-6, on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Bears (20-4) scored four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally past defending 1A state champion Trenton, 6-5, and advance to tonight’s game against the fifth-ranked Wildcats (14-5).
“They never quit,” said Dixie County coach Greg Wimberley, whose team scored the winning run on an error. “I think our team showed that they’re never going to quit so everybody better keep playing until seven innings and three outs are up.”
Dixie County, which has won nine in a row, is expecting to play in front of a large home crowd as the Bears try to follow up their first district championship with their first final four appearance.
“These people expect to win,” Wimberley said. “They don’t come out here to watch us lose. They go to football games and expect to win, they go to baseball games and expect to win. People in Dixie County expect to win and if you can’t do that then you have to find somewhere else to go. Expectations are high and they should be. This is a great team.”
Keystone Heights (18-9) will travel to Providence (Jacksonville) for a Class 3A-Region 1 Semifinal.
The No. 3 seed Indians advanced with a 7-4 win against No. 6 West Nassau (Callahan).
“We struggled in the beginning of the game with our offense, then we started to hit good pitches and hit when we needed to,” said Keystone Heights coach Jessica Marquart. “West Nassau is always good competition, and I knew we had to be on our game the whole time.”
The host Stallions (19-6) are ranked ninth in the state in Class 3A and defeated West Nassau, 9-2, in the 3A-District 4 championship game. Providence has won 10 in a row.
“If we continue to be selfless and do our jobs as a team we have a good chance,” Marquart said. “We are going to have to be clean in every aspect of the game to win on Tuesday. It’s going to be a tough game.”
Gainesville High will be on the road too as the Hurricanes (13-13) travel to Middleburg for a Class 5A-Region 1 Semifinal. GHS advanced with a 12-2 win against Milton last Thursday in the opening round of the state playoffs.
Junior Karter Thorp was 4-for-4 with a double and three runs driven in, and seniors Parris Wiggs, Kyra Hornsby and Jayla Clark each had a pair of hits for GHS, which has averaged 12.7 runs over its last three postseason games.
“We had our best game of the year both offensively and defensively against Milton,” said Gainesville coach Chris Chronister. “It was great to see the team play to their potential. When you get contributions from everyone in the lineup, good things will happen.”
The host Broncos (16-11), who are ranked eighth in the state in 5A by MaxPreps, have shutout three of its last four opponents.
“It is going to take another total team effort to beat Middleburg,” Chronister said. “If we can continue to play at a high level, I think we can be successful.”
The only baseball game tonight involving an area team is Suwannee (Live Oak), which will host Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) in the Class 4A-Region 1 Final with a spot in the final four hanging in the balance.
The Bulldogs (23-4), who are ranked No. 1 in the state in Class 4A by MaxPreps, advanced with a 2-1 win against Clay (Green Cove Springs) this past Saturday. The visiting Crusaders (20-6), winners of 12 in a row, are ranked fifth.
Regional Playoffs – Tuesday, May 17
Class 1A-Region 3 Final
No. 3 Union County (Lake Butler) (18-5) at No. 1 Fort White (14-7), 7 p.m.
Class 1A-Region 4
No. 2 Taylor (Pierson) (14-5) at No. 1 Dixie County (Cross City) (20-4), 7 p.m. – Game will be broadcast online at MainStreetDailyNews.com beginning at 6:50 p.m. (audio)
Class 3A-Region 1 Semifinals
No. 3 Keystone Heights (18-9) at No. 2 Providence (Jacksonville) (19-6), 7 p.m.
Class 5A-Region 1 Semifinals
No. 3 Gainesville (13-13) at No. 2 Middleburg (16-11), 7 p.m.
Class 4A-Region 1 Final
No. 2 Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (21-6) at No. 1 Suwannee (Live Oak) (23-4)