Weeki Wachee

Football teams come together for good cause

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Springstead's Adam Bass gains yardage against Fivay during Saturday's Clash 4 Clayton event at Springstead. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

Dustin Kupcik admits, he didn’t really know Rob Mahler. Yet the Springstead athletic director felt a kinship with the former Hudson High head football coach that compelled him to act.
Last month, Mahler’s 1-year-old son Clayton was diagnosed with Stage 3 intermediate-risk embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, a form of pediatric cancer. Mahler had stepped down in November after two seasons leading the Cobras. Four years ago, Kupcik’s sister Kasey went through her own battle with cancer.

College signings spread out across the county

Photos provided

Springstead softball shortstop Abby Oliver with principal Carmine Rufa during her signing with Warner University. Photo provided

Back in February, Central’s football team dominated National Signing Day with four football players officially inking with college programs.
That quartet included the state’s leading rusher, De’Vonta Smith (Division I Appalachian State), defensive back Dominique Walker (D-I Florida Championship Subdivision FAMU), linebacker Josh Rivera (D-II Lincoln University in Pennsylvania) and safety Sam Garner (NAIA Webber International).
Those were far from the only signings among the six county schools, however, and they weren’t the only signees from Central, either.

Sports notebook: New football coaches make debuts

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

New Weeki Wachee head coach Jacob Gray during Thursday's spring game against Anclote. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

In the long run, this week’s spring football classics will likely be forgotten footnotes for the upcoming prep football season.
But for Nature Coast’s Cory Johns and Weeki Wachee’s Jacob Gray, those exhibitions marked the first time those two new head coaches roamed the sideline at their respective posts.
Johns and the Sharks traveled to Palm Harbor University on Tuesday, since Nature Coast held its graduation on Friday night, and cruised to a 44-14 victory.

Sports notebook: Eagles repeat with blowout win

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead's Joey Delgatto throws to the plate during Wednesday's 6A-6 semifinal versus Lecanto. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

It was no secret that Springstead’s baseball team entered the Class 6A, District 6 Tournament as the prohibitive favorite to repeat as champion.
But the Eagles certainly didn’t fall short of those expectations this week, recording two blowout wins to collect another first-place trophy.
“We just played real well,” Springstead head coach Shawn Laferty said. “Defensively, we made one error. That’s been our M.O. all year. We played good defense, had good pitching and hitting when we need to.

Sports notebook: Springstead rallies for district repeat

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead catcher Paige Pfent had the game-winning single in Thursday's 6A-6 final. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Suffice to say, Springstead’s softball team’s road to a repeat district championship hit a significant speed bump halfway through Thursday night’s Class 6A, District 6 final.
Host Crystal River had shown it could stand up to the once top-ranked Lady Eagles a few weeks earlier, holding on for a 2-1 win at Springstead’s home field on April 4.
This time around, the Lady Pirates built a 4-0 advantage through the top of the fourth, but couldn’t stave off the top seed, who rallied to tie it up twice and eventually pulled out a 7-6 victory in eight innings.

Sports notebook: Sharks double up on track district titles

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast senior Kaitlyn Pierce won the 400 meter (1:04.88), came in second in the triple jump (33-1) and placed third in the 200 (27.98) in Friday's district meet. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

District championships have become a tradition for the Nature Coast track and field team, and nothing changed on Friday at Anclote High.
Both the boys and girls defended their Class 2A, District 7 crowns, the Lady Sharks tallying 199 points to far outdistance second-place Weeki Wachee (108), while their male counterparts totaled 159, well ahead of Zephryhills with 116.

Sports notebook: Springstead softball ramps up competition

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead, led by pitcher Kama Woodall, took on two other ranked softball teams this past week. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

As a team with Final Four aspirations, Springstead softball can’t be accused by anyone of playing a soft schedule.
The Lady Eagles, ranked fourth in this week’s Miracle Sports state poll for Class 6A, took on the No. 1 team in 2A, Academy at the Lakes in Land O’ Lakes, on Monday and suffered a 4-0 loss.
After dusting 6A-District 6 foe Lecanto the next night, 12-2, behind home runs by Kayla Cruz, Paige Pfent and Kama Woodall, Springstead (19-3 overall, 8-2 6A-6) knocked off Belleview, which came into the week ranked fifth in 6A, 3-1 on Thursday night.

Sports notebook: Central lifter Walker earns state medal

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Central's Dominique Walker placed fifth at states on Saturday, earning a medal at 199 pounds. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Two Hernando County lifters competed in Saturday’s Class 1A FHSAA Finals, and one left DeLand High with a medal in hand.
Central senior Dominique Walker placed fifth at 199 pounds, benching 325 pounds and putting up 265 in the clean-and-jerk for a 590 total. All were personal bests.
“It means a lot to get to states and then to place at states,” Walker said. “I put in the work at home with my dad and it showed today. It’s a blessing to go out in my high school career like this and now I can get ready for college football.”

Nature Coast boys, girls remain tops in county track

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast's Kailtyn Pierce competes in the triple jump during Thursday's Hernando-Citrus Classic. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

The names and faces have changed, yet for Nature Coast’s track and field program, the results remained the same in the Hernando-Citrus Classic.
All nine schools from the two counties converged on Weeki Wachee’s football field on Thursday, and both the Nature Coast boys and girls remained the defending champs.
For the Lady Sharks, it was a bit of a surprise, though they scored 170 points to finish well ahead of second-place Lecanto with 135.

Sports notebook: Springstead softball maintains top ranking

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead's senior Kama Woodall has led the Lady Eagles at the plate and on the mound this season. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead’s softball has been holding down the top spot in the Miracle Sports state softball rankings for Class 6A, and the Lady Eagles looked the part in two shutout district wins this past week.
On Tuesday, Springstead (16-1 overall, 7-1 6A-District 6) defeated Citrus, 7-0. Delaney Woodall went 2-for-4 with a run and two runs batted in, while Kayla Cruz and Kama Woodall each were 2-for-4 with one RBI. Paige Pfent was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Kama Woodall, who also doubled, threw a 1-hitter with 11 strikeouts.

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