Posted: 2:52 pm Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Softball: Scouting American Heritage, King’s Academy’s state semifinal games 

By Jeff Greer

For the first time since 2009 and only the third time in the past decade, no large-school softball programs from Palm Beach County reached the state softball semifinals. But we do have a pair of Class 3A programs heading to the Vero Beach Sports Village.

Forgive me if this feels like deja vu, but American Heritage and King’s Academy are in the state semifinals. Again. Both teams completed the challenging task of returning to the state tournament a season removed from doing the same thing. Heritage beat King’s in the semifinals last year en route to its second consecutive state title. This time around, they’re playing out-of-area opponents and could meet in the championship game.

Let’s take a look at how both teams qualified for the state tournament and who they’re playing. Tickets to the games are $9 and parking is $5.

Schedule of local games

Wednesday
King’s Academy vs. Jacksonville-Bishop Snyder, 1 p.m.
American Heritage vs. Montverde, 2 p.m.

Thursday
Class 3A state championship game, 1:35 p.m.

KING’S ACADEMY VS. BISHOP SNYDER

Team: King’s Academy
Record: 16-10
State tournament experience: 1 state tournament appearance – 1 semifinal
The road to state: St. John Neumann (16-0), Moore Haven (12-2), Shorecrest Prep (8-5)
Common opponents with Bishop Snyder: None.
Pitcher: Allison Willcox (14-7, 2.00 ERA)
Top hitters: 2B Kristen Wright (.685, 25 RBI, 41 R, 14 XBH), C Becca Gomez (.618, 28 RBI, 10 XBH)

Team: Bishop Snyder
Record: 26-4
State tournament experience: 3 state tournament appearances – 1 title (06), 1 runner-up (12), 1 semifinal (08)
The road to state: Maclay (13-0), North Florida Christian (8-0), PK Yonge (7-1)
Pitcher: Sydney Wright (24-4, 0.52 ERA, 187 IP, 242 K, 45 BB, 82 H)
Top hitters: P Sydney Wright (.438, 10 HR, 36 RBI), IF Natasha Kistler (.429, 29 R), IF Shelby Wood (.427, 8 HR, 36 RBI)

The lowdown: King’s is a team built around solid defense and good hitting. The Lions have scored 7.9 runs a game, churning out 8.6 hits per contest. The team bats .389 as a unit and has six players batting better than .400. They’ll have their hands full Wednesday against Bishop Snyder, one of the state’s top-ranked teams all season. Bishop Snyder shut out the area’s more feared hitting team, Palm Beach Gardens, in a 3-0 March win. That should stick out as a prime example of what Bishop Snyder can do. The Lady Cardinals score 5.5 runs a game and allow only a run a game. Righty ace Sydney Wright is a candidate for Florida Miss Softball, and has only given up two runs in five postseason games so far.

AMERICAN HERITAGE VS. MONTVERDE

Team: American Heritage
Record: 20-6
State tournament experience: 3 state tournament appearances – 2 state titles (11, 12), 1 runner-up (01)
The road to state: Highlands Christian (11-1), Calvary Christian (21-0), Westminster Christian (2-1)
Common opponents with Montverde: None
Pitcher: Corrie Boggess (13-3, 1.28 ERA, 81 2/3 IP, 96 K, 36 BB, 44 H, 5 SHO)
Top hitters: P Corrie Boggess (.479, 31 RBI, 13 XBH), 3B Jessica Mohl (.458, 22 RBI, 10 XBH), CF Marissa Mangini (.422, 21 RBI, 8 XBH)

Team: Montverde
Record: 22-6
State tournament experience: None
The road to state: Holy Trinity (15-0), Trinity Prep (2-0), McKeel (3-1)
Pitchers: Jesse Dreswick (12-3, 1.37 ERA, 87 IP, 99 K, 32 BB, 39 H, 6 SHO), Lucia Lara (9-2, 1.35 ERA, 72 2/3 IP, 104 K, 18 BB, 44 H, 4 SHO)
Top hitters: SS Elicia D’Orozio (.518, 15 RBI, 43 R, 11 XBH), IF Alondra Perez (.333, 24 RBI, 8 XBH)

The lowdown: State tournament newcomer Montverde Academy stands in the way of American Heritage’s third consecutive state title. Montverde has two good pitchers and two good hitters. The Eagles can certainly play — they beat Pine Castle Christian and Jensen Beach this season and also had Harmony, Winter Springs and a few other quality teams on their schedule. Heritage will be the favorite in this one and the Stallions will be in swing-away mode against Dreswick and Lara, who don’t walk many batters. Perhaps the big difference will come with fielding: Heritage committed 33 errors as a team over 26 games, while Montverde made 60 errors in 28 games.