Monday, April 19, 2010

District softball: What to watch

The district softball playoffs are here, and listed below are some storylines to watch.
They are listed in no particular order.

1. Manatee - The Hurricanes are seeded second in Class 5A-District 10 and need to beat Naples Gulf Coast 7 p.m. Tuesday at G.T. Bray to clinch a regional berth for a second straight year. But what the Canes really want is a crack at Venice, the tournament's top seed. The Indians beat Manatee in last year's District 12 final and then knocked the Canes out of the Region 3 playoffs.
"We're playing well at the end," said coach John Carlock, whose team is 18-6. "We're finding ways to win games."
A Manatee win, coupled with Venice beating either Punta Gorda Charlotte or Port Charlotte, sends both teams back to Venice for Thursday's championship game. The Canes and Indians split their two regular-season games.

2. Braden River and Lakewood Ranch - They are the top two teams in Class 4A-District 10 thanks to the ladies in the circle. Braden River transfer Huntyre Elling has defeated the Pirates twice this season, but the Pirates have a solid pitcher in freshman Hannah Loyer. The Mustangs are the No. 1 seed, earning themselves an automatic spot in the semifinals where they play either Palmetto or St. Petersburg Lakewood on Wednesday. Second-seeded Braden River hosts St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins 7 p.m. Tuesday. The championship will be played 7 p.m. Friday. The game will be played in Pinellas County unless two Manatee County teams qualify, in which case the higher seed hosts.
Don't be surprised if Lakewood Ranch and Braden River are playing for it all Friday night.

3. Saint Stephen's - The Falcons may be a pedestrian 6-9, but the important thing is the Falcons are playing softball after last season was cancelled because of a lack of interest. They play St. Petersburg Shorecest Prep at 2 p.m. Tuesday in a Class 2A-District 11 game at St. Petersburg Northside Christian.

4. Bradenton Christian - The Panthers scored a big win - mentally and physically - when they knocked off Brooksville Hernando Christian last Friday, scoring a 2-1 win on the road. The Panthers play Seffner Christian at 2 p.m. Tuesday in a Class 1A-District 8 semifinal at Hernandon Christian, and could wind up in Thursday's championship game and the Region 3 playoffs.

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