Posted: 3:03 pm Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Softball: Previewing the regional matchups in each class 

By Jeff Greer

There are still a few more regional brackets to be filled out, mostly in Class 6A, but let’s run down the local matchups that are already set.

Grandview Prep and Palm Beach Gardens looked primed to make another run to the state semifinals in Clermont. Park Vista will certainly make things interesting for Gardens. Centennial also has a great shot, along with American Heritage, Wellington and Dwyer.

A few other teams are lurking as wild cards — Berean Christian, King’s Academy — and surely others will surprise. Here’s a breakdown of each game. We’ll fill in the 6A stuff as it comes out.

CLASS 1A

Grandview Prep vs. Pompano Beach-Highlands Christian
When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Lake Charleston Park
Who to Watch: Grandview P Jane Sallen (10-3, 1.25 ERA), Geena Capitini (.484), Allie Catapano (.451)

Highlands Christian has a solid leading hitter in Samantha Hyman (.509) and two good pitchers, but Grandview Prep has designs on a return trip to the state finals. The Pride needs its boppers — Capitini and Catapano — to get some offense for Sallen. Grandview has the tools to get to Clermont.

Lake Worth Christian at Hollywood Christian
When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Hollywood Christian
Who to Watch: LWC’s Jessica Golden (.462), Mackenzie Morrell (.448); HC’s Lorena Spaulding (.678)

Don’t rub your eyes or question your sanity: That batting average for Spaulding is correct. Meanwhile Lake Worth Christian took last year off from the states after making the semifinals three years in a row from 2007 to 2009. The Defenders have a tough road to get back there.

Wellington Christian at Vero Beach-Master’s
When: Tuesday, 4 p.m.
Where: Master’s Academy
Who to Watch: Wellington Christian’s Amanda Dill (.541), P Alexa Elkins (11-8, 3.95 ERA)

This is Wellington Christian’s second trip to the regionals after making a brief stop in 2008. This regional group is brutal, with two of the top four teams in Class 1A on one side, and Berean Christian on the other. Should be a tough road.

Berean Christian vs. Brevard HEAT
When: Tuesday, 4 p.m.
Where: Seminole Palms Park
Who to Watch: Berean Christian P Amber Johnson (9-7, 0.83 ERA)

Like I said about Wellington Christian, this is an extremely tough region for Berean, too. St. Petersburg-Cantebury and Sarasota Christian are top-four teams in the Miracle Sports Class 1A poll. Johnson has been great all season and coach Phil Johnson says she can be the stud Berean needs to make a run.

CLASS 2A

American Heritage vs. Fort Lauderdale-Westminster
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: American Heritage
Who to Watch: American Heritage P Chelsea Brandt (8-4, 0.56 ERA), OF Marissa Mangini (.458)

Heritage has come on late in the season, narrowly losing to No. 2 Park Vista before winning the district title for the fourth year in a row. Brandt has looked strong in her recent outings, and the Stallions will need to be dominant. The lineup is good, and an impending matchup with King’s in the regional semis should be another doozy.

King’s Academy at Fort Lauderdale-Calvary Christian
When: Wednesday, 4 p.m.
Where: Calvary Christian
Who to Watch: King’s Academy’s P Aubree Murphy (12-8-1, 1.31 ERA), Kristen Wright (.530)

This has to be one of the best pitching matchups among the smaller classes. Calvary Christian’s Katia Gottfried (12-7, 1.47 ERA) vs. Murphy, who is the main reason King’s won the regular-season district title and made regionals. The possibility of a pitching rematch between Murphy and American Heritage’s Chelsea Brandt in the regional semis would make for good viewing, but both teams to get by tough first-round opponents first.

CLASS 3A

Cardinal Newman vs. Pompano Beach
When: Tuesday, 4 p.m.
Where: Cardinal Newman
Who to Watch: Cardinal Newman P Casen Love (13-8-1; hitting .494, 34 RBI), SS Rachel Rendina (.519), 1B Peyton Finlayson (.466, 36 RBI)

Newman stormed through its district tournament as expected and gets a home game in the regional quarters as a result. There isn’t a ton of information out there on Pompano Beach, other than that it made the district final in a tough grouping. Plantation-American Heritage, which is one of the best teams in the state, mercy-ruled Pompano in the final. Newman should get by Pompano and could see P-AH in the second round.

St. Andrew’s at Plantation-American Heritage
When: Tuesday, 5 p.m.
Where: Tera Ross Memorial Softball Field (American Heritage)
Who to Watch: St. Andrew’s Caitlin Grecz (.581), AH’s Bailey Castro (.618)

Safe to say this would be a tall order for any team. American Heritage beat Palm Beach Gardens, Park Vista and Jupiter, the three best teams in the area. Bailey Castro is one of the best hitters in the state. St. Andrew’s has a solid young team, and the Scots’ll need Caitlin Grecz to not only pitch well, but her bat has to be hot, too.

CLASS 4A

Suncoast vs. Cocoa-Space Coast
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Suncoast
Who to Watch: Suncoast P Lindsey Harris

Harris didn’t give up an earned run in the district playoffs, which saw the Chargers get through a tough bracket for the crown. Suncoast has the talent and the depth to win here.

Lincoln Park at Eau Gallie
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Eau Gallie
Who to Watch: Lincoln Park P Taylor Strickland (6-0, 1.05 ERA)

Lincoln Park shocked Okeechobee in the district semis. I thought the Brahmans had the tools to make a run to states. But they were brushed aside by the eighth-grader Strickland, who one-hit them. Strickland’s in the spotlight again on Wednesday, and LPA needs the youngster to lead the charge.

CLASS 5A

Wellington vs. Davie-Nova
When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Wellington
Who to Watch: Wellington P/Flex Corrie Boggess (10-3, 1.59 ERA; hitting .377), 1B Stephanie Schmidt (.442, 24 RBI)

If Corrie Boggess can stay healthy enough to play, Wellington has a chance to run at a state title. Schmidt has been tearing the seams off the ball all year, and the Wolverines’ lineup is a tough one to navigate. If they can keep the errors down and get Boggess and freshman Remi Losey to pitch consistently well, the sky’s the limit.

Dwyer at St. Thomas Aquinas
When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Where: St. Thomas Aquinas
Who to Watch: Dwyer 3B Danielle Fernandez (.552), P Mackenzie Huhn (10-6, 1.53 ERA)

The left-handed Huhn — they call her Mack — needs to power Dwyer this postseason. Fernandez is an on-base machine and Jordan English can be Dwyer’s bopper. If they put all the pieces together, the Panthers — just like Wellington — can be dangerous.

CLASS 6A

Centennial vs. Winter Garden-West Orange
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Lawnwood Stadium, Fort Pierce
Who to Watch: Centennial’s Dana Ensmenger, P Kadie Maurer

Ensmenger’s hot bat carried Centennial to a district title. The Eagles, who along with three big-name 6A teams in Palm Beach County, have been consistently ranked or near the top 10 in the Miracle Sports poll all year. They have a great shot at a state semifinal berth.

Palm Beach Gardens vs. Coral Springs-Taravella
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Palm Beach Gardens
Who to Watch: Gardens pitchers Kaylie Wallace and Shelby Turnier, 3B Kory Hayden, RF Ta’Coia Williams

Gardens has a complete lineup, fields well and has great pitching. So does Park Vista. That’s what makes the potential regional semi so enticing.

Park Vista at Parkland-Douglas
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Parkland-Douglas
Who to Watch: Park Vista P Laura Downs, C Jamie Gray, SS Emily Lochten

Same problem that I had with Gardens: There are so many players to watch that the list just looks too short. Great hitting. Downs has looked fantastic in her past two huge starts. And the fielding looked much improved in the 9-6A final vs. Gardens.

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