Posted: 3:08 pm Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Loss drops Palm Beach Gardens softball from top national ranking 

By Jeff Greer

Palm Beach Gardens softball lost its first game of the season last Friday, and that was enough to slip the Gators out of the top spots in the ESPN and MaxPreps national high school softball rankings.

The Gators lost to Jacksonville-Bishop Snyder 5-1 on the first day of Gulliver Prep’s SlamFest tournament in Miami. Of course, starting pitcher Shelby Turnier wasn’t on the mound for the loss, so take the ‘L’ for what it was: A chance for coach Randy Jackson to test some other players on his roster. That’s typically what coaches use weekend tournaments for, and Jackson regularly stresses how little he cares about won-loss records compared to getting his team ready for a state-title run.

Gardens (16-1) has outscored opponents 158-10 this season, and is still in the top five in both polls. ESPN has Gardens third, while MaxPreps has the Gators fifth. Jackson’s squad has a difficult weekend ahead, with American Heritage on Friday night and Gulliver Prep, which is ranked 41st in ESPN’s poll, on Saturday afternoon.

Niceville moved ahead of Gardens in the MaxPreps poll, jumping to second. ESPN ranks Niceville fifth.