It's no secret Fivay’s Jill McElderry is one of county’s toughest pitchers.
The junior is not only the county’s strikeout ace, but also is fourth in the state in fanned batters, according to Maxpreps.com. So far this season, the Falcons pitcher is 8-7 with 171 strikeouts, including a season-high 17 in last week's 12-5 victory against Wesley Chapel, and a 1.59 ERA.
Fivay is in a tight Class 5A-District 8 race, which features title contenders Gulf, Pasco and Zephyrhills. The Falcons won the district last season, upsetting Gulf and Pasco, but will be hard pressed to repeat.
McElderry has been great at the plate, too, hitting .492, with six home runs and 26 RBI. An impressive slugging percentage of .889 has made McElderry one of the most-feared batters, as well.
River Ridge wins Leopard Softball Slam An undefeated run through the tough Leopard Softball Slam, hosted by Brooksville Hernando, has the Royal Knights on pace for another deep playoff run. River Ridge (22-1) defeated Weeki Wachee, Lecanto, Brooksville Hernando and Countryside en route to the tournament title.
The Royal Knights followed up the strong tourney run by soundly defeating Gulf, 9-1, and have games left against Wiregrass Ranch and Zephyrhills. River Ridge has allowed just 28 runs in 23 games and boasts one of the top pitching staffs in the state.
River Ridge is ranked No. 2 in the most recent Florida state softball poll, behind Niceville (17-1). Bradenton Lakewood Ranch, which defeated River Ridge 10-0 in last season's Class 6A-Region 2 final, is No. 10 and holds a 12-4 record.
Pasco surging into districts The Pirates are ahead in the 5A-8 standings after Gulf forfeited seven games because of an ineligible player.
This district is shaping up to being the toughest in Pasco County as Gulf, Fivay, Zephyrhills and Pasco have an eye the two postseason spots.
Pasco (14-7) has played well in its past eight games, including going 2-2 in the Leopard Softball Slam with victories against Poinciana (15-0) and Inverness Citrus (6-4). The Pirates have three games remaining against Hudson, Hernando and Mitchell.
(Records through Thursday)
1. River Ridge (22-1): The Royal Knights eye a deep postseason run after winning the Leopard Softball Slam and disposing of Gulf 9-1.
2. Zephyrhills (15-5): Despite a three-game losing streak, the Bulldogs will be the No. 1 seed heading into the 5A-District 8 tournament it will host, April 15-19.
3. Mitchell (15-5): The Mustangs have gone through a tough 6A-District 10, but likely will meet rival and state-power River Ridge in the district final.
4. Pasco (14-7): The Pirates have hit their stride and are 6-2 in their past eight games, including victories against Gulf, Inverness Citrus and Zephyrhills.
5. Gulf (10-12): The Buccaneers are below .500 after forfeiting seven games because of an ineligible player, but are still a dangerous team.
Correspondent Andy Villamarzo covers Pasco County prep softball and can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.