Nature Coast

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.

Sharks hang tough, fall just short at Bishop Moore

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast junior J.P. Gates struck out 11 batters in six innings and homered against Bishop Moore in Tuesday's regional semifinal. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

The Nature Coast baseball team rode a red-hot offense to a district championship repeat and just the second trip to the Sweet 16 in program history.
But perennial state title contender Orlando-Bishop Moore Catholic managed to cool off the Sharks’ bats in Tuesday night’s Class 5A, Region 2 semifinal. Still, visiting Nature Coast certainly held its own, but struck out 16 times and allowed the winning run to score on a wild pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning to fall, 2-1.

Sharks gain regional redemption, advance to Sweet 16

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast's Zach Funkhouser hit a solo home run in the Sharks' 7-3 win over Lake Highland Prep. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Only one Hernando County prep baseball team survived Tuesday’s first round of regionals, and for Nature Coast it was also about gaining a measure of redemption.
The Sharks found themselves hosting Orlando-Lake Highland Prep in a Class 5A, Region 2 quarterfinal, just as they had last year when they allowed four runs in the seventh inning in a 5-3 loss.
This time around, Nature Coast took care of business. Even after giving up two runs in the top of the first, the Sharks rallied right back and pulled away for a 7-3 victory.

Hernando roughs up rival, heads to Elite Eight

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Hernando leadoff hitter Josey Sims gets a bunt down during Tuesday's regional semifinal against Nature Coast. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

BROOKSVILLE – Back on March 30, Hernando High’s softball team had dropped four straight the past two seasons to Nature Coast, and were three outs away from pushing that streak to five.
Then the Lady Leopards scored three times in the top of the seventh inning that night, rallying for a 3-2 victory, and everything changed. They followed that with a 4-0 win in the Class 5A, District 7 title game on the Lady Sharks’ home field on April 27.

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.

Bats heat up as Sharks take district title

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast's baseball team celebrates after the final out of Friday night's 5A-7 championship game. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast’s baseball team came into the Class 5A, District 7 Tournament seeded third behind county rivals Hernando and Central respectively, having gone 1-3 against those two in the regular season.
Furthermore, the Sharks opted to use ace lefty J.P. Gates in a first-round 12-1 win over Gulf on Tuesday, leaving him unavailable the remainder of the tournament.

County softball teams go 3-for-3 in region quarters

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Springstead pitcher Kama Woodall, who threw a perfect game, readies for a pitch in the batter's box during Wednesday's regional quarterfinal. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

SPRING HILL – Three Hernando County prep softball entered regional play on Wednesday, and all three will be back in action for next Tuesday’s semifinals.
That’s the situation after Hernando, Nature Coast and Springstead all recorded quarterfinal wins to advance to the Sweet 16.
For the Lady Eagles, seeking their second straight trip to the Elite Eight after repeating as Class 6A, District 6 champions last week, it was another day at the office for senior pitcher Kama Woodall.

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.

Hernando makes statement, knocks off Nature Coast for district title

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

Hernando's Ali Shenefield delivers a pitch against Nature Coast in Thursday night's 5A-7 final. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

BROOKSVILLE – Over the past two seasons, much of the local prep softball discussion has centered around two programs, Springstead and Nature Coast.
After all, those two teams did win district titles and advance to the Elite Eight a year ago, and they’ve met in back-to-back Leopard Slam finals.
Quietly, though, Hernando has built a case for belonging in that same class, and on Thursday night on the Lady Sharks’ home field they cemented that claim, defeating the top-seeded Lady Sharks in the Class 5A, District 7 championship game, 4-0.

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.

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