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Three for three?

State honors coming

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 6/15/22

GAINESVILLE - St. Johns Country Day School pitcher and power hitter Brad Hodges and Middleburg High flamethrowing senior pitcher Mallory Forrester were both named as their respective Class players of …

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Three for three?

State honors coming


GAINESVILLE - St. Johns Country Day School pitcher and power hitter Brad Hodges and Middleburg High flamethrowing senior pitcher Mallory Forrester were both named as their respective Class players of year athletes, according to a Florida Dairy Farmers press release of June 9.

In the coaches choices, Middleburg High softball coach Ashley Houston was selected as the Class 5A coach of the year and also puts her hat in the ring as a possible Florida Dairy Farmers coach of the year nominee after winning Middleburg High’s first-ever state title.

The softball and baseball players Mr. and Miss players of the year will be selected Wed., June 15 with the coaches to be announced on June 16.

Forrester, the Class 5A softball player of the year, earned her honor after a sterling end-of-season pitching push that included two games of 19 strikeouts and two Final Four games with 10 strikeouts apiece as the Middleburg High Lady Broncos softball team won their first-ever team state title for the school with a 1-0 win over South Lake High in Clermont.

Hodges, a pitcher, infielder and power hitter for the Spartans, the Class 2A runnerup last year to Out-of-Door Academy, seemed destined to repeat their initial trip to the Class 2A championships game, but fell 4-1 in the region final to eventual Class 2A runnerup North Florida Christian.

Hodges finished his senior campaign under coach Tom Lucas with a 23-5 record and a strong second place finish at the National Baseball Invitational to Stoneman Douglas High, the Class 7A champions. Hodges, a University of Virginia commit, finished at 10-0 on the mound with a 1.28 earned runs average with 114 strikeouts. In the batter’s box Hodges was impressive with a .516 batting average off 11 doubles, nine homers, 35 runs scored and 32 runs batted in.

Forrester, who has been the main pitcher for Houston for her four years as the boss of Bronco softball, finished her outstanding senior campaign with an

astounding 271 strikeouts and a 1.08 earned runs average with a 13-5 won loss record. Forrester, a Flagler College committ, had two 21 strikeout games in regular season play as well as her two 19 strikeout campaigns in the Broncos region playoff semifinals and finals.

For Houston, who orchestrated a 20-11 final season record that was at 11-11 in midseason, ran the table to her first state title as a coach with two scintillating 1-0 wins in the Final Four tournament; one over Naples High, the second the championship game over South Lake High.

In both games, won 1-0, Houston leaned on her team’s defensive effort to preserve 1-0 leads earned through a daring basestealing maneuver that scored the lone run against Naples in the semifinal and a solo homer early in the game that survived a seventh inning bases loaded scenario against South Lake.

In the Florida Dairy Farmers list of candidates for their Mr. Baseball player of year choice, Hodges is joined by, in Class 7A, Stoneman Douglas senior outfielder Roman Anthony, a University of Mississippi commit, who hit at .520 with 14 doubles and 10 homers to lead Stoneman to the Class 7A title. In Class 6A, is Pace High senior pitcher Walter Ford, a University of Alabama committ for the state runnerups, who pitched for 119 strikeouts and a 1.61 ERA off a 9-1 record.

In Class 5A, Wes Mendes, a junior pitcher outfielder for state champion Tampa Jesuit, pitched to a 10-1 record with a 1.61 ERA and 93 strikeouts while hitting at .422 with three doubles, four triples and four h omers. Mendez is committed to Vanderbilt University.

In Class 4A, Kevin Martinez, a junior pitcher/infielder for Island Coast High, the 4A champions, pitched to a 12-1 record with a 1.27ERA and 93 strikeouts while batting .452 with nine doubles and two homers. Martinez is committed to Flagler College.

In Class 3A, Cade Kirkland, a senior infielder at 3A champion Berkeley Prep, hit at .468 with seven doubles and 13 homers with 38RBIs. Kirkland is committed to University of Florida. In Class 1A, Colby Jones, a senior pitcher/infielder for Class 1A champion Holmes County High, pitched to an 8-1 record with a 0.87 ERA on 80 strikeouts while hitting. 511 with five doubles, five triples and two homers. Jones is committed to Northwest Florida State College.

The selections for Class coaches of the year and the list for state coach of year include Todd Fitzgerald of 7A champion Stoneman Douglas; Ralph Suarez of 6A champion Doral Academy; Miguel Menendez, of 5A champion Tampa Jesuit; Clint Montgomery of 4A champion Island Coast; Brian Campbell of 3A Final Four finisher North Broward Prep; Chris Cuadra of 2A champion Miami Christian, and Jeremy Powell of 1A champion Holmes County High.

For softball, Forrester is joined as a nominee for the Florida Dairy Farmers Miss Softball player of year by Ella Dodge of 7A champion Lakewood Ranch, who pitched to a 25-2 record with a 1.02 ERA and 219 strikeouts. In Class 6A, Jasmine Franck, a sophomore itcher for 6A champion Melbourne High, pitched to a 19-1 record with a 0.16ERA on 251 strikeouts with just three earned runs all season.

In Class 4A, Katie McCaw, a junior pitcher for 4A champion Deltona, finished at 17-3 with a 1.24ERA off 177 strikeouts.

In Class 3A, Hannah Taylor, a junior catcher for 3A runnerup Hernando County High, hit at .484 with 16 doubles, five triples and six homers with 51 runs batted in.

In Class 2A, Luna Curran, senior pitcher for Final Four finisher Oxbridge Academy, pitched to a 22-2 record with a 0.25ERA off 299 strikeouts while hitting at .470 with 12 doubles and six homers.

In Class 1A, senior pitcher Alayna Lowery of 1A champion Jay High, finished at 14-1 with a 2.35ERA off 84 strikeouts while hitting .484 with eight doubles, 14 homers and 41 runs batted in. For the Florida Dairy Farmers coach of the years, Houston joins a select group of state champion coaches including T.J. Goelz of Lakewood Ranch in 7A with his second straight title; Dan Edel of Melbourned in 6A who took the coaching reigns in midseason and finsihed 26-2-1 with that title; Lindsay Ingram of 4A Deltona who, like Houston, won the school’s first state title; Dion Weaver of 3A Clearwater Calvary Christian who also got his school’s first state title in his first year; Kaley Bitterman-Gangelhoff of 2A The First Academy who won that school’s first state title and Brian Watson of 1A Jay High and his school’s first state title after runnerup finishes in 2014, 2015 and 2021.

Also nominated for the Class 1A-7A baseball players of year were Lou Dias of Oakleaf in 7A, Abram Summer of Fleming Island in Class 6A, Jacob Rowe of Ridgeview in Class 5A and Max Williams of Clay in Class 4A. For the baseball coaches, nominees included Josh Persinger of Clay and Tom Lucas of St. Johns Country Day School.

Also nominated for the Class 1A-7A softball players of year were Khloe Banks of Oakleaf in 7A and Sydney Davis of Clay in 4A. For the softball coaches, nominated were Heather Han of Oakleaf in 7A, Matt Lewis of Clay in 4A and Jessica Marquart of Keystone Heights in 3A.