St. Cloud, Osceola, Liberty off to fast softball starts
Most county students spent this week searching for a nice spot on a beach or at a vacation place during Spring Break.
If you’re on the Osceola baseball team, you were at the field looking for your team’s identity.
One of the only teams to compete in town during the break, the Kowboys took wins from a pair of ranked schools, Owasso (Okla.) and Pace High School, northeast of Pensacola, on Wednesday. A game against Orlando Boone scheduled Tuesday was rained out.
“During Spreak Break you never know what you’re going to get,” OHS Coach Scott Birchler said. “But these were like postseason wins, with the caliber of opponent and what the kids are asked to do.”
Osceola (5-3) scored five runs in the first inning against Owasso and cruised to a 9-3 victory. Edgar Velazquez and Isaiah Rivas each rapped two-run singles and catcher Jorge Rivera scored twice, as the Kowboys got six hits but took advantage of six Owasso errors.
In the late afternoon game, the Kowboys needed a rally after falling behind 3-1 in the sixth inning. They got it when Rivera coaxed a two-out walk, then Marlon Sanchez swatted a two-run home run to tie the ball game.
Keniel Carrion, who had an RBI single in the second that gave Osceola a brief 1-0 lead, came in from center field to pitch the seventh and provided shut-down relief. In the bottom of the inning, he walked with one out, moved to second on a wild pitch and, after Brett Birchler was intentionally walked, Carrion sped home on Frankie Santaniello’s single up the middle to win it.
Coach Birchler said his team showed the grit he’s wanted to see.
“After we lost (15-0) to Olympia early in the year I knew we’d be in for an identity check,” he said. “We don’t just roll out studs, we have kids who do what they’re supposed to do, and we have to stitch them together so we can win the big games we have to later on if we’re going to be in the postseason.”
Osceola’s next chances come at home Tuesday against Celebration and Saturday against Apopka.
Harmony, off to a 6-2-1 start, played in the Fernandina Beach Diamond Classic this week. The Longhorns will host Poinciana on Wednesay and Melbourne on Friday.
Tohopekaliga is 2-4, but get the first wins in Tigers’ program history last week over Poinciana. The Tigers will host St. Cloud (3-2) on Wednesday.
In softball, St. Cloud is off to a strong 8-1-1 start as its seeks a fifth consecutive district title this year. The Bulldogs have logged shutout victories over strong opponents like West Orange and St. Thomas Aquinas already this year, and travel Wednesday afternoon to Windermere, who they had to come from behind to defeat last year for that fourth district title in a row. They then travel to Bartow next weekend for the loaded Tournament of Champions event.
The team is hitting .364 thus far, with Leah Gonzalez (.455) and Ariana Manzanares (.417) leading the way.
Osceola (10-4) is also playing well heading into the annual Roger Jones Kissimmee Klassic in two weeks. The Kowgirls took a pair of games in last weekend’s Miami SlamFest, 12-0 over Our Lady of Lourdes and 2-1 in eight innings over Coral Glades.
Offensively, shortstop Audra Thompson picked up where she left off her Player of the Year sophomore season last year. She’s hitting .422 with 19 RBI, four triples and 15 runs in 14 games. Outfielder Rylee Andrews is close behind (.412, 19 runs).
The Kowgirls are at Poinciana Wednesday and host Lake Minneola on Friday.
Liberty is off to a hot 7-1 start, including a 5-1 mark in District 8A-10, with the only loss coming against St. Cloud.
Sydney Marrero and Bev Rehfeldt have been the 1-2 punch in the pitching circle, and the offense has come from Michelle Santiago, Kayleen DeJesus, Morgan Bates (who have all homered), Yasheska Marquez and Tatyana Falcon.
The Chargers will host Harmony (4-3) on Thursday.