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Friday, Jul 25, 2014
TBO Prep Sports Lennard

Softball notes: Lennard seeks first district title

Tribune staff
Published:
RUSKIN -

For years, Lennard’s softball team was on the losing end of many games.

Through the program’s first five years, the team won a total of 15 games, an average of three per season.

Last year, however, the Longhorns earned some long awaited respect by enjoying their first winning season (12-9) and playing in their first district championship game. By advancing to the district championship, Lennard, which opened in 2006, secured the program’s first postseason berth.

The Longhorns lost the district title game to Robinson, 15-3, but advanced to the Class 5A region quarterfinals to face Dunedin. Though Lennard fell short of advancing to the regional semifinals in a 7-5 loss, it gave the program something to build on.

Next week, Lennard will host the Class 5A District 11 tournament, in which the Longhorns are the top seed after winning a coin toss to settle a three-way tie with Blake and Robinson.

And the Longhorns (8-9) are hoping to add to their growing respect by winning their first district championship.

“When we got first seed, they all came running down to my office,” said first-year coach Jamie McCulley. “They’re excited. This is the first time they got first seed, ever.”

Senior Ashlyn Schultz (16 runs, 13 hits, 15 RBI) and sophomore Taylor Kelly (14 hits, 15 runs and 14 RBI) lead a balanced offense while Schultz has been the team’s ace, posting a 0.93 ERA and 5-6 record on the mound.

“She’s our team leader,” McCulley said of Schultz. “If anyone has a question or concern on the field, they go to her.”

Junior infielder Kellie Bostic has been the team’s defensive catalyst as of late, McCulley said, for successfully making the switch from second to third base when a teammate was injured.

The driving motivation for the team, McCulley said, are four seniors who want to leave a legacy.

“That would be the best graduation gift they could ever get,” McCulley said.

Lennard is 5-3 when playing at home, and McCulley said it should work in her team’s favor.

“It’s going to be a huge advantage because we beat Blake and Robinson at home,” she said. “We practiced on our field.”

As far as recording the program’s first postseason win, McCulley doesn’t want the players to get ahead of themselves.

“We just have to get through district first,” she said. “Hopefully we can have region game at our field.”

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TOP PERFORMERS

Kristin Hoover, Berkeley Prep: Through 34 at-bats, the junior has the county’s highest batting average at .647.

Lizzie Jackson, Bloomingdale: Sophomore infielder/outfielder leads the county with 20 stolen bases, including a season-high five against Armwood.

Alexis Jackson, Robinson. Senior catcher leads the county with 33 RBIs, highlighted by registering seven in a 20-17 win against Gaither.

Lace Smith, Bloomingdale: The sophomore pitcher leads public schools with 146 strikeouts and has four double-digit strikeout performances this season.

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TOP 5 TEAMS

1. Strawberry Crest (20-2): Has lost to one county team this season.

2. Durant (16-8): Avenged earlier loss to Chamberlain with 2-0 win on Tuesday.

3. Chamberlain (17-7): Won a coin toss to take top seed entering 7A-9 tournament.

4. Bloomingdale (16-6): Young team playing beyond its years.

5. Freedom (16-2): Has outscored opponents 163-29 this season.


nwilliams@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7305

Twitter:@NickWilliamsTBO

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