Nature Coast

Preseason football notebook: Central drops shootout

Photography by Alice Mary Herden and Cheryl Clanton

Central's Jonathan Allion gains yardage against East Ridge during Friday night's preseason game. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

BROOKSVILLE – Based on the results of Friday night’s preseason classic, Central won’t have any problems putting points on the board. Whether it can outscore the opposition is another matter.
Hosting Clermont-East Ridge in an exhibition, the Bears were repeatedly burned by big plays, canceling out a spectacular performance by running back De’Vonta Smith in a 45-26 defeat.

Sharks host summer hoops tourney

Photography Alice Mary Herden

Nature Coast takes on Armwood during the semifinals of the Nature Coast Summer Shootout on Thursday. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

School may be out for the next couple months, but the Nature Coast gym was open for business on Thursday.
The boys basketball team played host to the fifth annual Nature Coast Summer Shootout, bringing together 32 teams from around the area over two days. Games were also played at Explorer K-8 and Fox Chapel Middle School.
“I thought it was very successful,” Nature Coast head coach Dave Pisarcik said. “Overall, two great days of basketball. A lot of good teams here, a lot of competitive teams, so you’re getting good games.

Sharks using spring to move on

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Nature Coast head coach Justin Worden discusses technique during practice this week. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

The exploits of Nature Coast’s football team last fall were well-chronicled. That’s an end result from the Sharks putting together arguably the finest campaign in county history.
But All-American senior running back DeShawn Smith, who led the nation with 3,715 rushing yards and a state-record 66 touchdowns, has played his final game in a Nature Coast uniform. So the program has begun the process of moving forward this spring, hoping to prove that after going 12-1, collecting a district crown and advancing to the Elite Eight, it can sustain a high level of success.

Nature Coast star running back arrested

DeShawn Smith. Photo provided by HCSO

Nature Coast senior running back DeShawn Smith, who led the nation in both rushing yards and touchdowns last fall, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with burglary.
According to the arrest report filed by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, Smith, 18, and three juveniles were involved in a break-in at a residence located at 11260 Claymore St. in Spring Hill on Tuesday afternoon.

Sports notebook: Lady Sharks take track region title

Photography Alice Mary Herden

Nature Coast senior Ashley Gentz qualified for states in four events at the 2A-II Meet on Tuesday. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

Nature Coast’s track and field program has long dominated the county and district ranks. But when it came to regionals, the attention turned to advancing individuals to states.
In Tuesday’s Class 2A, Region II Meet at Lake Minneola, the Lady Sharks managed to add one more championship trophy to their collection.
For the first time in either gender, Nature Coast collected a regional title, as the girls scored 76 points to edge second-place Gainesville-Eastside with 71. The Lady Sharks were regional runners-up the past two years.

County softball season ends in Elite Eight

Photography by Alice Mary Herden and Danny Aiello

Springstead's Kama Woodall talks with head coach Craig Swartout during an at-bat Friday night. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

SPRING HILL – One pitch. That’s all it took for Hernando County’s two remaining prep softball teams to have their dreams of a Final Four appearance dashed on Friday night.
In the Class 6A, Region II final, Springstead hosted Land O’ Lakes and lost an epic pitcher’s duel, 1-0. Meanwhile in the 5A-II finale, Nature Coast traveled to South Sumter and suffered a 3-1 defeat.

Sharks stunned late as county teams falter

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Nature Coast's Jayden Rivera rounds third on the way to scoring a run in Wednesday night's regional quarterfinal. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

BROOKSVILLE – It seemed like Wednesday would be a banner day for Hernando County prep baseball, as a record four local squads were set to compete in regional quarterfinals.
But it ended up being a rugged night for all those teams – Hernando, Nature Coast, Springstead and Weeki Wachee – as each saw their seasons come to a close in defeat.

Pfent walk-off blast sends Eagles to Elite Eight

Photography Alice Mary Herden

Springstead's Paige Pfent uses her bat to knock dirt from her cleats during Tuesday's regional semifinal against Crystal River. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

SPRING HILL – At this point, Paige Pfent’s home run heroics are almost becoming predictable.
It may have felt that way as she rounded the bases Tuesday night, after the right-hander hit a majestic two-run shot well beyond the fence in right-center field to end the Class 6A, Region II semifinal against visiting Crystal River, providing the host Lady Eagles with a 3-1 victory in eight innings.

Santiago steps up as Sharks finally win district

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

Nature Coast's Brandon Santiago earned the win while driving in four runs in Friday night's 5A-7 final win over Hernando. Photo by Alice Mary Herden

BROOKSVILLE – With ace J.P. Gates unavailable, having tossed a no-hitter in Wednesday’s 2-0 semifinal win over Central, Nature Coast’s baseball team had to turn to someone else while attempting to make history.
That turned out to be junior southpaw Brandon Santiago, the Sharks’ No. 2 starter, who ended up earning the win while also driving in four runs at the plate Friday at Emerson Field, as top-seeded Nature Coast defeated host Hernando in the Class 5A, District 7 final, 13-8.

Gentz collects four district titles, leads Lady Sharks

Photography Alice Mary Herden

Ashley Gentz, weightlifting

BROOKSVILLE – Ashley Gentz already has a state championship under her belt this year from weightlifting, and on Tuesday she crept closer in her pursuit of more state hardware in track and field.
Gentz placed first in three individual events and was part of a winning relay, leading the Lady Sharks to a dominating victory in the Class 2A, District 7 Meet at Central.

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