Several talented county teams returned to the softball diamond last week as the spring sports have started play in Osceola County. Here is a review of the county teams.
Miranda Watford welcomes back a group of experienced veterans from her team that went 16-10 a year ago before bowing out in the first round of regionals.
Osceola’s strength will lie on the left side of the infield, where the Lady Kowboys return both starting third baseman Audra Thompson (.455, 28 RBI) and shortstop Natalia Ferrer (.318, 19 RBI). On the mound, Osceola will feature senior Shelby Jones (10-7, 2.03 ERA in 2019) and sophomore Alyssa Miranda (2-2, 2.80 ERA last season).
“This year we have a combination of veterans with a talented group of newcomers. Seven starters returning bring experience,” Watford said. “This is a fun group of young ladies who are extremely supportive, have a strong positive vibe, and hungry to make another run for the playoffs. Our focus this season will be executing the little things and building on our strengths.”
Osceola took a 3-2 record into this week’s play, but was 3-0 against county opposition.
The Lady Longhorns look to improve off of last year’s 10-10 season, where they lost in the first round of district play to Heritage.
Head Coach Misti Mindrup welcomes back a team that includes seniors Taylor Barrett and Ansley Bo.
Barrett was the leading hitter and pitcher on the team last season and is off to a 2-2 start this season with a .273 batting average. Bo, an outfielder, is hitting .300 in the early season.
Harmony has a promising young player in freshman shortstop Amanda Whelen who is hitting .429 in the early part of the season.
Head Coach Ray Whobrey lost just three seniors from last year’s 19-8-1 team that finished as district runner-up. Those losses were significant, however, as it included his top two pitchers Alyssa O’Donnell and Lindsey Burns; as well as his top hitter Arianna Manzanes (.370).
Still, St. Cloud returns some experienced veterans and should be more than competitive in district competition. The Lady Bulldogs return 2B Amy MacNab (.324, 12 RBI). 1B Taylor McFann (.325, 23 RBI), and outfielder Leah Gonzales (.290) to the lineup. St. Cloud could get a significant lift from sophomore Kiley Holland (Utility/Pitcher), who saw significant time last year.
In the early going, the Lady Bulldogs were 1-3 on the season with losses coming to state power West Orange and Eau Gallie.
First-year head coach Samuel Milien will take over a Panthers team that finished 2-15 last year. Milien will rely on senior leadership from junior Bianca Santiago (1B/3B) and senior Brianny Carruyo (Inf/OF) to lead a 12-player roster that includes eight freshmen and sophomores.
The Panthers are off to a 1-1 start, beating Celebration but losing to Liberty.
Now in its second-year of competition, Chantal Crockett’s team struggled to a 4-19 finish in its first season. Scoring runs was a definite issue for the Lady Tigers, who were shut out 12 times in their initial season.
Top players for the Tigers include pitcher Sienna Rivera and infielder Destinie Youman. Freshman INF/OF Carly Tarazona has shown early promise.
“My goals and expectations for my team are to work together on the field and become unified as a whole. Being a new school is a struggle and the girls have to learn how to work with new teammates that they have never played with before,” Crockett said. “We do have an enthusiastic mixture of veterans and newcomers that want to learn and get better. My coaching staff and I believe that we have a great group of girls who are able to compete.”
Toho is 0-3 in its first week of play.
After an 11-7 season where the Lady Chargers were eliminated in the first round of the District tournament, Kathrin Pennanen hopes to take the team to higher levels this season. The Chargers got off to a great start, going 3-0 and outscoring their opponents 51-0.
Top players include pitcher Sydney Marrero; she will be backed on the mound by fellow senior Emma Stephens. Top returning hitters are senior OF Michelle Santiago and sophomore OF/INF Jehna Morales.
“Liberty carries a strong, seasoned pitching staff and defensive lineup that will keep us competitive all season,” Head Coach Kathrin Pennanen says. “Our expectations are to make our weaknesses strengths and our strengths even stronger. As a team, our goal is to play hard every game and improve every game through the regular season, districts and hopefully the regionals and states.”
Anyssa Robles welcomes back 13 veterans off of last year’s 5-19 squad.he team is off to a 1-2 start with a win against Tohopekaliga but losses to Gateway and Ridge. A young team, Celebration has 15 underclassmen on its 17-player roster, including nine freshman and sophomores. Robles will look for senior leadership from Destiny Trammel, Rebecca Stafford,
Richard Morgan takes over a struggling program that went winless a season ago. Morgan will have some experienced players returning, including junior co-captains Haliegh Norris (C/SS), Brianna Fox (1B), and Alissa Santana (INF). Morgan will look for freshman Kristin Skoog, to join sophomores Chloe Norris and Kirstin Benson to form the basis of his pitching staff.
The Eagles are off to a 0-3 start this season.