Ridaught: Area loaded with top pitchers

Trenton's Addison Allaire (left) and Gainesville's Leanna Bourdage are among the top softball pitchers in the area.
Trenton's Addison Allaire (left) and Gainesville's Leanna Bourdage are among the top softball pitchers in the area.
Photos by C.J. Gish

It may come as no surprise that the top softball teams in the area also have the top players in the circle.

There is no shortage of good pitchers in the area.

This past Friday night, two of the best went head-to-head for a second time this season as Trenton’s Addison Allaire outdueled Gainesville’s Leanna Bourdage.

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Allaire threw a complete-game one-hitter with 14 strikeouts and only one walk as the host Tigers (14-1) shut out Gainesville High, 2-0, to split the two-game series.

Bourdage allowed just four hits and only gave up one earned run in six innings, but an error led to the first run of the game and proved to be the difference.

In the first meeting
 at GHS (14-2) on March 7, Allaire also allowed just one earned run but lost the game 2-0 despite allowing just four hits with three walks and 17 strikeouts in six innings of work.

Her counterpart, Bourdage, threw a complete-game three-hitter with three walks and 13 strikeouts, allowing no runs on just three hits.

The two aces are freshmen.

As an eighth grader, Allaire was 5-4 in the circle with a 1.62 earned run average (ERA). She only walked 27 and struck out 144 in 82.1 innings pitched.

University of West Florida signee Nevaeh Hayes (4-1) of Williston has a 1.50 ERA in 42 innings pitched with only five walks and 41 strikeouts.

Williston (10-9) will play at GHS at 7:30 p.m. on Monday.

Hayes did not pitch in the first meeting at Williston, a 13-2 win by the Hurricanes on Feb. 21.

In that game, Bourdage threw six innings and allowed no earned runs on just one hit with one walk and 11 strikeouts.

Last year, Laila Arnold of Branford (16-4) made the Bosshardt Realty All Area team as a pitcher after leading the Bucs (25-5) to a Class 1A state runner-up finish.

As a sophomore in 2023, Arnold was 21-4 in the circle with a 1.65 ERA. She had a 4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio with 258 Ks and 61 walks in 165.2 innings pitched.

In 2024, she is 10-1 with a 1.43 ERA in 17 appearances.

In 88 innings pitched she has a 3-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio with 32 walks and 110 strikeouts.

She has allowed just 18 earned runs on 47 hits for Branford, which has a team ERA of 1.35. Opposing batters are hitting just .149 this season against Arnold.

Sophomore Mallory Blue (5-2) is second on the team with 10 appearances and has a 1.69 ERA.

Against Trenton and Allaire on April 1, Arnold pitched seven innings, allowing just one earned run in a 2-1 loss. She allowed just four hits with three walks and seven strikeouts.

Meanwhile, Allaire struck out 19 batters in the game and allowed just one run on one hit and a walk.

Kadence Compton of Fort White, who was an All Area selection two years ago as a freshman, has the Indians (8-4) in the mix for another state playoff appearance.

Two years ago, she helped lead the Indians (16-8) to a state runner-up finish by posting a 1.66 ERA. She finished with 212 strikeouts in 144 innings pitched.

She had the game-winning hit in the state semifinals, a 7-5 win against Dixie County at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont.

Compton (8-4) has a 1.27 ERA.

In 77 innings pitched, she has allowed just 14 earned runs with only 15 walks and 111 strikeouts.

Santa Fe (Alachua) sophomore Sarah Burns is in Class 3A with a 1.06 ERA.

In Friday’s 9-0 win at Lafayette (Mayo), Burns threw a complete-game two-hitter with no walks and 14 strikeouts.

All six of those top pitchers are on teams that are ranked top 10 in the state.

In last week’s FHSAA rankings (April 1), Gainesville is ranked fourth in Class 5A, Santa Fe is ranked 10th in 3A, while Trenton and Fort White are ranked Nos. 1 & 2 in Class 1A, followed by No. 5 Branford and No. 6 Williston in 1A.

Other pitchers of note include sophomore Gracey Watley of Suwannee (Live Oak) (3.11 ERA), who was an All Area selection last year, freshman Madison Rodgers of Newberry (2.80), and senior Mackenzie Fisher of Chiefland (1.96 ERA).

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