ORANGE PARK - In typical fashion as a Clay vs. Ridgeview softball game would be expected, the two main cogs of both teams; sophomore Gabbie Ellis, a pitcher for the Lady Blue Devils, and Brittany …
ORANGE PARK - In typical fashion as a Clay vs. Ridgeview softball game would be expected, the two main cogs of both teams; sophomore Gabbie Ellis, a pitcher for the Lady Blue Devils, and Brittany Michael, senior pitcher for the Lady Panthers, both made the Miracle Sports Class 4A All-State first team in a press release from Miracle Sports.
Michael, the devastating hurler for coach Casey Thompson; 25-4/ 0.87ERA/185 strikeouts, who saw a second Final Four finish, was named the pitcher of the year for Class 4A. Michael, on her third all state team in four years (minus COVID season) was a 2019 first team Class 6A choice along with twin sister Brooke Michael. Brittany Michael was a freshman second team Class 6A choice in 2018.
The irony of the Class 4A lists come from the player of the year being Eustis’ sophomore Libby Levendoski, also a pitcher, who dethrottled the Ridgeview batting lineup in a classic battle of pitching prowess in the Class 4A state semifinal. Eustis, the eventual Class 4A champions, also earned a coach of year nod to head coach Brittany Beal.
Offensive player of year went to Tampa Robinson senior Jordyn Stephens.
For Michael, who championed the Panthers team with her leadership from the mound for four years, had the return of her twin sister, Brooke, a catcher, to the lineup near midseason to fuel the Panthers finishing flurry after Brooke Michael, who was an honorable mention selection, was dealing with cancer for much of 2020-21.
For Ellis, who was coach Matt Lewis’s main arm for most of the year; 164 strikeouts/1.11 ERA with an 18-9 season off a 19-10 team record, the battles with Michael, for sure, will lead to junior and senior seasons where she may be the dominant pitcher in Clay County, if not Class 4A.
Clay and Ridgeview also had second team selections with the Blue Devils getting Sydney Davis, a junior catcher and the top RBI hitter (33/2HRs) for Lewis, and the Panthers nabbing senior utility player Ashlyn Halford. Halford, with a team leading 30RBIs/7 Doubles, was clutch bat for the Panthers with numerous timely hits that added to the late inning heroics of the Ridgeview season. Halford was a second team Class 6A selection in 2019.
On third team Class 4A, Clay had junior infielder Emma Martin (30RBIs, 1HR-grand slam) and senior outfielder Casie Carlisle (24RBIs, 9 doubles, 3 Triples).
Honorable mentions went also to Haylee McCrea and Mary Girgis, two freshman playmakers, for Ridgeview, Kylee Stacy, senior infielder for Clay and Orange Park senior pitcher Jenna Hiers (90 strikeouts).
In Class 7A, with champions Lakewood Ranch getting top coach and player of year honors, Oakleaf, who took the then-unbeaten University High to extra innings in their region final, got senior pitcher Madi McDaniel on third team. McDaniels finished at 11-6 with 94 strikeouts.
Oakleaf got a handful of honorable mention selections with Ciara Gibson, sophomore infielder (team leader 23RBIs/2nd steals 25); Trinidi Murrell, junior power hitter (6HR/10 doubles); Khloe Banks, junior playmaker in centerfield and top basestealer (34 steals); Tatiana Robaya, junior big bat (8 doubles); Meshayla Pettaway, a freshman bat (16RBIs, 4 doubles, 2 triples, 1 HR); Kayla Aldridge, a junior pitcher (4-1), and Mariyah Sanchez, sophomore third baseman (22RBIs).
In Class 5A, Middleburg, who ended their regular season with four excruciatingly close losses to a lineup of Bartram Trail (5-4), Ponte Vedra (6-5), Providence (3-1) and Ridgeview (1-0) stormed to a region final finish where an early lead over Pace fell short.
The Lady Broncos, with coach Ashley Houston, landed junior pitcher Mallory Forrester on the All State second team with teammates Courtney Bernhard, a senior outfielders, and Kaylee Crickmore, a senior utility player, making third team honors. Crickmore was a 2019 second team selection in Class 7A with Bernhard and honorable mention.
Middleburg also had three honorable mentions; Colleen Johnson, senior; Belle Mincey, junior and Maisy Campbell, junior.
In Class 3A, Keystone Heights got third team nods to Kinley Carlton, junior infielder, and Kiley Channell, sophomore infielder, plus honorable mentions to Piper Pescara and Megan Green, both seniors.