Ridaught: Baseball, softball in full swing

Today marks the start of the high school softball and baseball regular seasons after concluding preseason games last week.

Last year the area won two state championships, both in Class 1A (Trenton softball and Newberry baseball).

The season opener for defending Class 1A state champion Trenton is on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at home against Santa Fe (Alachua).

Last year, the Lady Tigers finished 20-1 and won their second state title in the past three years.

In fact, Trenton has played for a state title three times in the past four years and may have had their best team ever in 2020 when the season was cut short due to COVID-19.

This year, the Lady Tigers have a new coach in former assistant Clint Anderson, who takes over for Todd Bryant who stepped down at the end of last season.

Trenton was 57-1 the past three years under Bryant.

Newberry, which won its first state baseball title in school history last May, is coming off a 25-1 season.

The Panthers, who are coached by Mike Spina, open up defense of their 1A state title on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at home against Baldwin.

Williston, which lost at Newberry in last year’s 1A Region Final, will host head coach Mike Bullock’s former team, Vanguard (Ocala), tonight at 6:30 p.m.

“We lost a lot of experience last year,” said Bullock, whose team only returns two starters. “For us to be successful we need to throw strikes and play good defense, and have timely hitting.”

Union County (Lake Butler), which finished 21-5 and lost to Hamilton County (Jasper) in last year’s region final, opens up tomorrow at home against Dixie County (Cross City) at 6 p.m., followed by a home game on Wednesday against Baldwin (7 p.m.).

“We’re looking to have a good season which means a lot because I have seniors that started with me as freshmen,” said Union County baseball coach Travis Rimes.

The Tigers played a lot of freshman and sophomores on the mound in preseason games last week against Santa Fe and GHS, to put their “young arms in pressure situations.”

“I feel we will have a successful season because our guys have been working hard and they are physically and mentally focused,” Rimes said. “Again, it’s baseball, sometimes there are things that you just can’t control. We’re going to take it one game at a time in preparation for districts and regionals at the end.”

The Gainesville softball team will open up the season at home tonight at 7 p.m. against city rival Buchholz.

“We are excited to get the season started playing Buchholz,” said GHS coach Chris Chronister. “We only have four returning starters from last year, but I expect them all to play significant leadership roles for the team this year.”

Kyra Hornsby is the Hurricanes’ returning pitcher and will get a majority of the time in the circle this year, while Karter Thorp is returning at second base after leading the team in double plays last year.

Chronister is expecting Thorp to be a leader in the infield as well as provide production at the plate, along with a couple of other key returnees who have signed to play at the next level.

“Parris Wiggs was our leading hitter last year and we will need her to continue to produce at the plate,” Chronister said. “Jayla Clark is an outstanding outfielder and leadoff hitter.”

The Hurricanes are also expecting significant contributions from freshman Braylin Cook both offensively and defensively.

The regular seasons will run through the end of April with district tournaments in both sports scheduled for May 2-5.

Softball

Monday, Feb. 21

Lake Weir (Ocala) at Bradford (Starke), 6 p.m.

Buchholz (Gainesville) at Gainesville, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 22

Peniel Baptist Academy (Palatka) at St. Francis Catholic Academy (Gainesville), 4 p.m.

Interlachen at Eastside (Gainesville), 6 p.m.

Bronson at Newberry, 6 p.m.

Chiefland at Hamilton County (Jasper), 6 p.m.

Old Plank Christian Academy (Jacksonville) at Bradford (Starke), 6:30 p.m.

Fort White at Union County (Lake Butler), 6:30 p.m.

Branford at Columbia (Lake City), 7 p.m.

Santa Fe (Alachua) at Trenton, 7 p.m.

Forest (Ocala) at Gainesville, 7 p.m.

Keystone Heights at Baldwin, 7:05 p.m.

Dixie County (Cross City) at Suwannee (Live Oak), 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 24

Countryside Christian (Gainesville) at Cedar Key, 5 p.m.

P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) at Interlachen, 6 p.m.

Newberry at Union County (Lake Butler), 6:30 p.m.

Baker County (Glen St. Mary) at Keystone Heights, 6:30 p.m.

Lafayette (Mayo) at Columbia (Lake City), 7 p.m.

Suwannee (Live Oak) at Santa Fe (Alachua), 7 p.m.

Bronson at Branford, 7 p.m.

Buchholz (Gainesville) at Chiefland, 7 p.m.

Fort White at Dixie County (Cross City), 7 p.m.

Williston at Dunnellon, 7 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 25

St. Francis Catholic Academy (Gainesville) at Seven Rivers Christian (Lecanto), 6 p.m.

Newberry at Buchholz (Gainesville), 6:30 p.m.

Bradford (Starke) at Ed White (Jacksonville), 6:30 p.m.

Williston at Bell, 7 p.m.

Chiefland at Branford, 7 p.m.

Dixie County (Cross City) at Trenton, 7 p.m.

Keystone Heights at Santa Fe (Alachua), TBA

Baseball

Monday, Feb. 21

Bradford (Starke) at Yulee, 6 p.m.

Vanguard (Ocala) at Williston, 6:30 p.m.

Madison County at Suwannee (Live Oak), 7 p.m.

Hamilton County (Jasper) at Chiefland, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 22

Bronson at Eastside (Gainesville), 6 p.m.

Trenton at Fort White, 6 p.m.

Dixie County (Cross City) at Union County (Lake Butler), 6 p.m.

Columbia (Lake City) at Sandalwood (Jacksonville), 6 p.m.

Dunnellon at Williston, 6:30 p.m.

Baker County (Glen St. Mary) at Bradford (Starke), 7 p.m.

North Marion (Citra) at Santa Fe (Alachua), 7 p.m.

Keystone Heights at Clay (Green Cove Springs), 7 p.m.

Crescent City at Hawthorne, 7 p.m.

Baldwin at Newberry, 7 p.m.

Oak Hall School (Gainesville) at Branford, 7 p.m.

P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) at Gainesville, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 23

St. Francis Catholic Academy (Gainesville) at Hawthorne, 6 p.m.

Baldwin at Union County (Lake Butler), 7 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 24

Gainesville at Eastside (Gainesville), 6 p.m.

Dunnellon at Chiefland, 6:30 p.m.

West Port (Ocala) at Newberry, 7 p.m.

Lincoln (Tallahassee) at Buchholz (Gainesville), 7 p.m.

P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) at Bronson, 7 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 25

St. Francis Catholic Academy (Gainesville) at Seven Rivers Christian (Lecanto), 6 p.m.

Columbia (Lake City) at Gainesville, 6 p.m.

Cedar Key at Bell, 6:30 p.m.

Suwannee (Live Oak) at West Nassau (Callahan), 7 p.m.

Orange Park at Bradford (Starke), 7 p.m.

Buchholz (Gainesville) at Belleview, 7 p.m.

Chiefland at Trenton, 7 p.m.

Branford at Bronson, 7 p.m.

Dixie County (Cross City) at Lafayette (Mayo), 7 p.m.

Keystone Heights at Santa Fe (Alachua), 7 p.m.

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