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Blue Devils softball running amuck

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 3/16/23

GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Area softball teams have been shaking off last year's graduation losses with lineups maneuvering to get optimum results and Clay coach Matt Lewis may be just a tad ahead of the …

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Blue Devils softball running amuck


Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Area softball teams have been shaking off last year's graduation losses with lineups maneuvering to get optimum results and Clay coach Matt Lewis may be just a tad ahead of the curve with his Blue Devils, ranked eighth in Class 5A, running strong despite two recent tournament losses to two top programs; Williston (11-1, top ranked Class 1A) and Trenton (5-3-1, 14th ranked 1A) both state ranked powerhouses.
Senior Gabbi Ellis is the shoulder that carries the Blue Devils with a .481 batting average and a 6-1 untouchable pitching presence on the mound; 69 strikeouts in 44 innings. Do the math; that means most opponents might (Might) get one batter to put wood on the ball per inning.
Junior Kendyll Mann, one of the Final Four Fantastic Females from last year, is hitting .346 with a team leading six RBIs.
Oakleaf, with a blasting of Middleburg (9-1) last week, may be finding their groove of yesteryear behind the one-two punch of Ciara and Mariyah while coach Heather Han grooms sophomore hurler Charlotte Maddox. Once Meshayla Pettaway finds her swing, watch out.
Middleburg coach Ashley Houston, 4-3, showed last year that she knows how to take a punch and keep chugging and the 9-1 whip by Oakleaf will be a teaching moment for sure. Houston has a bevy of state champion pedigree returners led by infielder Kaelyn Hagan and junior Ali Seibel. Once Houston grooms transfer pitcher Libby Bennett, Ridgeview last year, the Bronco pitching staff will feature two power arms in Bennett and Morgan Beckham. Then the fun begins.
Fleming Island, 3-6, had had some glimpse of dangerous intentions with timely bats, but the Golden Eagles opened with a gauntlet of Ponte Vedra, Clay, Palatka and Oakleaf before taking a breath and pummeling Beachside. Coach kid Alexis Bucklew holds a .476 batting average with Caley Spearman and Brooke Wilson both over .400.
Ridgeview's new coach Angela Agurkis has taken some lumps after a strong opening; Ponte Vedra 7-0 loss, 5-0 to West Nassau and 3-2 to Clay, and the trend is she is getting her competitive nature to assimilate to the team.
Former second base, now shortstop Kyiera "The Hammer" Torrence has been the leader of a three player attack force with Haylee McCrae and Girgis that gets on base and makes dust on the paths.
Orange Park coach Lee Taylor is a guy that runs under the radar, but has some pretty substantial results in his long tenure. With daughter Lexi Taylor on his side, the duo has had parts in some pretty dramatic Raider history and the present team, at 6-2, may benefit from that.
Sophomore Zoe Pascoe is a basher with a .600 batting average (also a great fisherman) and with seven stolen bases to 13 runs scored; a total package.
With some defensive work, the Lady Raiders could be formidable with a young crew of bashers in the batters box.
And St. Johns Country Day School, in quiet fashion, is all of a sudden 4-0 with all games in double figures; 15-1, 21-2, 12-2 and 18-0. Megan Jeffers, a sophomore, has 10 hits in 13 at bats with an astounding 12 RBIs and two homers. Oh yeah, she has a .769 batting average.