Who will be softball’s No. 1?

Softball in the North Central Florida area was pretty good in 2021.

There were two state champions (Trenton and Eustis), two state runners-up (Brooksville Hernando and Jacksonville University Christian), and three other state semifinalists (Orange City University, Orange Park Ridgeview and Jacksonville Episcopal).

On Thursday, The Prep Zone Power Poll, which ranks the top 20 teams across 26 counties, will release its final softball rankings for the 2021 season.

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Both state champions have the best chance at finishing on top of the all-classification regional rankings.

Libby Levendoski of Eustis was named the Florida Dairy Farmers Class 4A Player of the Year after leading the Panthers to the Class 4A state title. The sophomore pitcher helped lead her team to a 23-1 record. She had an 0.46 ERA in 152 innings pitched with 286 strikeouts and 15 walks.

The Panthers cruised through the district and regional playoffs, outscoring opponents a combined 46-2. Levendoski struck out 13 in the state semifinals as No. 4 Eustis defeated No. 2 Ridgeview (26-4), 2-0, and she fanned 17 Hernando batters in the state championship game in a 5-0 win against the No. 10 Leopards (26-5).

Eustis coach Brittany Beall was named the Class 4A Coach of the Year after leading the Panthers to the school’s first state title. In 11 years, she has posted a 186-66 record with a state runner-up finish in 2017.

Trenton, third in the regional rankings, repeated as 1A state champion behind the pitching of Florida Atlantic University signee Darian Ingram and the hitting of Stetson signee Keeli Zingaro. 

Ingram was named the Class 1A Player of the Year after tossing eight no-hitters this season and leading the Tigers (20-1) to back-to-back state championships.

She struck out 17 against Branford in the state semifinals and 13 against Jay in the state title game.

Zingaro hit a home run in the district championship game and in the region final against Dixie County (Cross City) in a match-up of the top two teams in the state in 1A. Zingaro added a three-run home run in the state championship game.   

Todd Bryant was named the Class 1A Coach of the Year. The Tigers are 57-1 in the last three seasons under Bryant, who announced his retirement following the title run.

Their only loss was in extra innings on April 1 against No. 6 Baker County (Glen St. Mary), which lost 6-5 to Ridgeview in the Class 4A regional finals.

University could retain its hold of the top spot. The Titans (25-1) didn’t lose until the Class 7A state semifinals.

Class 4A state semifinalist Ridgeview advanced to its second final four in the past three years.

Here’s a look at how the top 20 softball teams ended their seasons.

THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL – 2021 SOFTBALL POLL NOMINATIONS

(School, followed by classification, first-place votes, final record through 5/22, final state ranking in classification by Max Preps, and how they fared in playoffs)

1. University (Orange City) (7A) (7) (25-1) – CLASS 7A STATE SEMIFINALIST; ranked No. 2 statewide in 7A and No. 3 overall in all classifications by Max Preps; LOST to eventual 7A state runner-up Park Vista (Lake Worth) 4-3 in 7A state semifinal at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont (Fri.); won at Lake Brantley (Altamonte Springs) 3-0 in Region 1-7A final (5/14); d. No. 18 Oakleaf (Orange Park) 7-6 (8 innings) in Region 1-7A semifinal (5/11); d. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) 9-1 in Region 1-7A quarterfinal (5/6); d. Spruce Creek (Port Orange) 2-0 in District 2-7A final (4/30); d. DeLand 7-0 in District 2-7A semifinal (4/28).

2. Ridgeview (Orange Park) (4A) (26-4) – CLASS 4A STATE SEMIFINALIST; ranked No. 2 statewide in 4A and No. 13 statewide in all classifications; LOST to eventual 4A state champion No. 4 Eustis 2-0 in 4A state semifinal at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont (5/20); d. No. 6 Baker County (Glen St. Mary) 6-5 in Region 1-4A final (5/14); d. RV Clay (Green Cove Springs) 2-1 in Region 1-4A semifinal (5/11); d. Yulee 10-0 in Region 1-4A quarterfinal (5/5); d. RV Clay (Green Cove Springs) 3-1 in District 4-4A championship game (4/29); d. Orange Park 10-0 in District 4-4A semifinal (4/27).

3. Trenton (1A) (20-1) – CLASS 1A STATE CHAMPIONS; ranked No. 1 statewide in 1A and No. 17 statewide in all classifications; d. Jay 5-4 in 1A state championship game at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont (5/19); d. Branford 3-2 in 1A state semifinal at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont (5/18); d. No. 8 Dixie County (Cross City) 4-0 in Region 4-1A final (5/11); d. Hawthorne 21-0 in Region 4-1A semifinal (5/5); d. No. 8 Dixie County (Cross City) 4-2 in District 7-1A championship game (4/29); d. Chiefland 4-0 in District 7-1A semifinal (4/27).

4. Eustis (4A) (27-1) – CLASS 4A STATE CHAMPIONS; ranked No. 1 statewide in 4A and No. 4 statewide in all classifications; d. No. 10 Hernando (Brooksville) 5-0 in 4A state championship game at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont (5/21); d. No. 2 Ridgeview (Orange Park) 2-0 in 4A state semifinal at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont (5/20); d. No. 15 Belleview 5-0 in Region 2-4A final (5/14); won at Rockledge 15-2 in Region 2-4A semifinal (5/11); d. Merritt Island 11-0 in Region 2-4A quarterfinal (5/5); d. Bishop Moore (Orlando) 4-0 in District 7-4A championship game (4/30); d. Mount Dora 11-0 in District 7-4A semifinal (4/28). 

5. West Nassau (Callahan) (3A) (20-7) – ranked No. 5 in 3A and No. 24 overall in all classifications; LOST at eventual 3A state semifinalist No. 11 Episcopal (Jacksonville) 4-3 in Region 1-3A semifinal (5/11); d. RV Fernandina Beach 11-1 in Region 1-3A quarterfinal (5/5); d. No. 17 Baldwin 6-4 in District 3-3A championship game (4/29); d. Bradford (Starke) 13-2 in District 3-3A semifinal (4/27). 

6. Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (4A) (18-8) – ranked No. 7 statewide in 4A; LOST at eventual 4A state semifinalist No. 2 Ridgeview (Orange Park) 6-5 in Region 1-4A final (5/14); won at RV Paxon (Jacksonville) 1-0 in Region 1-4A semifinal (5/11); won at West Florida (Pensacola) 1-0 in Region 1-4A quarterfinal (5/5); LOST to RV Paxon (Jacksonville) 1-0 in District 2-4A championship game (4/29); d. Ed White (Jacksonville) 15-0 in District 2-4A semifinal (4/27). 

7. East Ridge (Clermont) (7A) (20-8) – ranked No. 6 statewide in 7A and No. 25 overall in all classifications; LOST to West Orange (Winter Garden) 4-3 in Region 3-7A semifinal (5/11); d. Ridge Community (Davenport) 15-0 in Region 3-7A quarterfinal (5/6); d. West Orange (Winter Garden) 9-4 in District 9-7A championship game (4/29); d. Olympia (Orlando) 14-0 in District 9-7A semifinal (4/27). 

8. Dixie County (Cross City) (1A) (20-3) – ranked No. 3 statewide in 1A; LOST at eventual 1A state champion No. 3 Trenton 4-0 in Region 4-1A final (5/11); won at Williston 1-0 in Region 4-1A semifinal (5/6); LOST to No. 3 Trenton 4-2 in District 7-1A championship game (4/29); d. Newberry 11-0 in District 7-1A semifinal (4/27). 

9. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (17-7) – ranked No. 2 statewide in 2A; LOST at eventual 2A state runner-up RV University Christian (Jacksonville) 11-6 in Region 1-2A final (5/14); d. North Florida Christian (Tallahassee) 14-4 in Region 1-2A semifinal (5/11); d. Aucilla Christian (Monticello) 12-2 in Region 1-2A quarterfinal (5/5); d. St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park) 10-0 in District 2-2A championship game (4/29). 

10. Hernando (Brooksville) (4A) (26-5) – CLASS 4A STATE RUNNER-UP; ranked No. 3 statewide in 4A and No. 15 overall in all classifications; LOST to No. 4 Eustis 5-0 in 4A state championship game at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont (5/21); d. American Heritage (Plantation) 9-8 in 4A state semifinal at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont (5/20); won at Lake Region (Eagle Lake) 4-3 in Region 3-4A final (5/14); d. Wesley Chapel 14-2 in Region 3-4A semifinal (5/11); d. Tarpon Springs 17-1 in Region 3-4A quarterfinal (5/5); d. Wesley Chapel 9-0 in District 9-4A championship game (4/29); d. Weeki Wachee 15-0 in District 9-4A semifinal (4/28).

11. Episcopal (Jacksonville) (3A) (23-6) – CLASS 3A STATE SEMIFINALIST; ranked No. 3 statewide in 3A and No. 20 overall in all classifications; LOST to eventual 3A state runner-up Windermere Prep 4-0 in 3A state semifinal at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont (5/19); d. Marianna 6-1 in Region 1-3A final (5/14); d. No. 5 West Nassau (Callahan) 4-3 in Region 1-3A semifinal (5/11); d. No. 17 Baldwin 5-0 in Region 1-3A quarterfinal (5/5); d. RV Fernandina Beach 11-1 in District 4-3A championship game (4/29); d. Bolles (Jacksonville) 15-1 in District 4-3A semifinal (4/27).

12. Creekside (St. Johns) (6A) (20-6) – ranked No. 11 statewide in 6A; LOST at eventual 6A state runner-up Winter Springs 6-1 in Region 1-6A semifinal (5/11); d. No. 16 South Lake (Groveland) 1-0 in Region 1-6A quarterfinal (5/6); d. Fletcher (Neptune Beach) 11-3 in District 3-6A championship game (4/29); d. Fleming Island (Orange Park) 10-0 in District 3-6A semifinal (4/27). 

13. Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville) (4A) (17-7) – ranked No. 11 statewide in 4A; DID NOT QUALIFY FOR PLAYOFFS; LOST to Wesley Chapel 12-8 (8 innings) in District 9-4A semifinal. 

14. Gainesville (5A) (18-7) – ranked No. 7 statewide in 5A; LOST to Matanzas (Palm Coast) 1-0 in Region 1-5A quarterfinal (5/6); d. Middleburg 2-1 in District 3-5A championship game (4/29); d. Columbia (Lake City) 10-0 in District 3-5A semifinal (4/27).

15. Belleview (4A) (21-8) – ranked No. 15 statewide in 4A; LOST at eventual 4A state champion No. 4 Eustis 4-0 in Region 2-4A final (5/14); won at Citrus (Inverness) 8-3 in Region 2-4A semifinal (5/11); won at Dunnellon 3-2 in Region 2-4A quarterfinal (5/5); d. North Marion (Citra) 10-0 in District 5-4A championship game (4/29); d. Lake Weir (Ocala) 15-0 in District 5-4A semifinal (4/27). 

16. South Lake (Groveland) (6A) (21-5) – ranked No. 13 statewide in 6A; LOST at No. 12 Creekside (St. Johns) 1-0 in Region 1-6A quarterfinal (5/6); LOST to eventual 6A state runner-up Winter Springs 4-2 in District 4-6A championship game (4/29); d. Lake Howell (Winter Park) 5-4 in District 4-6A semifinal (4/27); d. Edgewater (Orlando) 15-0 in District 4-6A quarterfinal (4/26). 

17. Baldwin (3A) (20-6) – ranked No. 13 statewide in 3A; LOST at eventual 3A state semifinalist No. 11 Episcopal (Jacksonville) 5-0 in Region 1-3A quarterfinal (5/5); LOST to No. 5 West Nassau (Callahan) 6-4 in District 3-3A championship game (4/29); d. RV Keystone Heights 4-1 in District 3-3A semifinal (4/27). 

18. Oakleaf (Orange Park) (7A) (17-10) – ranked No. 11 statewide in 7A; LOST at eventual 7A state semifinalist No. 1 University (Orange City) 7-6 (8 innings) in Region 1-7A semifinal (5/11); d. Spruce Creek (Port Orange) 3-2 in Region 1-7A quarterfinal (5/6); d. Bartram Trail (St. Johns) 9-2 in District 1-7A championship game (4/29); d. Nease (Ponte Vedra) 12-2 in District 1-7A semifinal (4/27). 

19. West Port (Ocala) (7A) (18-6) – ranked No. 28 statewide in 7A; DID NOT QUALIFY FOR REGIONAL PLAYOFFS; LOST to Spruce Creek (Port Orange) 8-3 in District 2-7A semifinal (4/28). 

20. Lecanto (5A) (16-7) – ranked No. 15 statewide in 5A; DID NOT QUALIFY FOR REGIONAL PLAYOFFS; LOST to eventual 5A state runner-up Land O’Lakes 14-2 (4/27). 

Also receiving votes: 

Paxon (Jacksonville) (4A) (17-8) – ranked No. 9 statewide in 4A; LOST to No. 6 Baker County (Glen St. Mary) 1-0 in Region 1-4A semifinal (5/11); d. Wakulla (Crawfordville) 3-2 in Region 1-4A quarterfinal (5/5); d. No. 6 Baker County (Glen St. Mary) 1-0 in District 2-4A championship game (4/29); d. Suwannee (Live Oak) 4-3 (8 innings) in District 2-4A semifinal (4/27). 

Keystone Heights (3A) (14-9) – ranked No. 15 statewide in 3A; DID NOT QUALIFY FOR REGIONAL PLAYOFFS; LOST to No. 17 Baldwin 4-1 in District 3-3A semifinal (4/27). 

Taylor (Pierson) (3A) (19-4) – ranked No. 17 in 3A; LOST at eventual 3A state runner-up Windermere Prep 5-0 in Region 2-3A semifinal (5/11); d. Montverde Academy (Forfeit) in Region 2-3A quarterfinal (5/5); d. Trinity Catholic (Ocala) 4-1 in District 3-3A championship game (4/29); d. Interlachen 15-0 in District 3-3A semifinal (4/27). 

Fernandina Beach (3A) (19-6) – ranked No. 34 statewide in 3A; LOST at No. 5 West Nassau (Callahan) 11-1 in Region 1-3A quarterfinal (5/5); LOST at eventual 3A state semifinalist No. 11 Episcopal (Jacksonville) 11-1 in District 4-3A championship game (4/29); d. Providence (Jacksonville) 1-0 in District 4-3A semifinal (4/27). 

University Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (18-3) – CLASS 2A STATE RUNNER-UP; ranked No. 3 statewide in 2A; LOST to state champion Canterbury (St. Petersburg) 3-1 in 2A state championship game at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont (5/19); d. Mount Dora Christian Academy 8-3 in 2A state semifinal at Legends Way Ballfields in Clermont (5/18); d. No. 9 Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) 11-6 in Region 1-2A final (5/14); d. Christ’s Church Academy (Jacksonville) 10-0 in Region 1-2A semifinal (5/11); d. Father Lopez (Daytona Beach) 15-0 in Region 1-2A quarterfinal (5/5); d. Christ’s Church Academy (Jacksonville) 10-0 in District 3-2A championship game (4/29); d. St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine) 15-0 in District 3-2A semifinal (4/26). 

Clay (Green Cove Springs) (4A) (19-10) – ranked No. 12 statewide in 4A; LOST at eventual 4A state semifinalist No. 2 Ridgeview (Orange Park) 2-1 in Region 1-4A semifinal (5/11); won at Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) 2-0 in Region 1-4A quarterfinal (5/5); LOST to No. 2 Ridgeview (Orange Park) 3-1 in District 4-4A championship game (4/29); d. Menendez (St. Augustine) 1-0 in District 4-4A semifinal (4/27).

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