As expected, it was another crazy night in the Big Bend baseball and softball world. The evening began with 11 teams hunting to keep their seasons alive, but only four made it out to advance to regional semifinals.
North Florida Christian baseball, Florida High softball, Aucilla Christian softball, and Wakulla softball were the victors on the night as the rest saw their seasons come to an end. Here's how it all went down.
2A-1: No. 2 North Florida Christian 12, No. 7 Oak Hall 2
North Florida Christian got behind but stormed back in an overwhelming way on Wednesday in the 2A Regional Quarterfinals against Oak Hall.
Falling 2-0 in after two innings, the Eagles' season was being threatened by the school from Gainesville before they thwarted them 12-2.
That was until a Josh Schuchts run got them on the board in the fourth inning which was followed by an RBI double by Ashton Gainer which led Joseph Ervin and Ace Walker to make it to home plate.
"We had a little stage fright," Eagles head coach Mike Posey said. "But after we scored our first run, we relaxed a little bit. The first game's always tough and I'm proud of my guys."
Once they took the 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth, they went into full takeover mode, following it up with a seven-run fifth inning.
Led by homers to leftfield from Ervin and Gainer, the Eagles ran away with the game at Posey Field.
"Everybody got a little looser," Posey said. "We were putting a little bit of pressure on ourselves in the first few innings."
"Once we scored a couple runs it got a little easier at the plate. A couple of home runs didn't hurt either."
In the following inning, NFC mercy-ruled Oak Hall to move on to the regional semifinals.
The Eagles have won five straight and will host regional semifinals on Saturday against the winner of University Christian and Wakulla Christian.
"Anybody can beat anybody in the playoffs," Posey said. "We just got to be ready and fix a few things that we didn't do well today."
Gerald Thomas III covers FAMU athletics for the Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @3peatgee.
2A-1: No. 3 University Christian 5, No. 6 Wakulla Christian 4
The Saints nearly pulled off of one of the biggest upsets on the night, narrowly falling to University Christian, 5-4, in Jacksonville. Wakulla Christian piled on four runs in the sixth and seventh innings, coming back from 5-0 down to give them a chance, but came up just short.
Senior Will Pell brought in two runs on the night, while junior Garrett McKenzie and senior Parker Mann both had two hits on the night. Sophomore Langston Stephens was brought home twice, making up half of the Saints scoring. Senior Mason Frick played the bulk of the game, allowing four runs on six hits and striking out six over four innings.
Wakulla Christian finishes its season at 18-3, which includes a 16-game winning streak, which had them as one of only three teams that were undefeated in the state at one point. The Saints graduate five seniors: Frick, Tate Daniels, Nicholas Davis, Pell and Mann.
2A-1: No. 1 St. Johns Country Day 13, No. 8 St. John Paul II 0
Coming in as the underdog, the Spartans quickly jumped on the Panthers, scoring seven runs in the first inning. Five in the third inning and one in the fourth inning mercy-ruled the game in the fifth, seeing the No. 1 team in 2A walk away with a 13-0 win.
The Panthers were unable to pick up a hit but got on base once as junior Lewin Kelley was walked. JPII went through three pitchers over four innings, seeing them combine for four strikeouts. The Panthers end their season at 13-9 and graduate two seniors: Kam Pryor and Bryce Avant.
3A-1: No. 7 The Villages Charter 3, No. 2 Florida High 1
In the postseason, it's all about finding that big hit at the right time, and anyone could get it. Throughout the majority of the game between Florida High and The Villages Charter (TVG), both teams had opportunities but both couldn't find that hit. Then in sixth inning, the Buffalo broke through.
The bases constantly had two runners on with two outs, but Florida High continued to find its way out. In the sixth, TVG finally capitalized off a double from Andon Gray to score two and put the Buffalo up by a pair. They got that hit both teams were striving for and Florida High couldn't get that connection from the sixth to the final out.
The Seminoles' loss to The Villages Charter, 3-1, was the third upset in Class 3A Region 1 as seeds one through three all lost their quarterfinal games. It was a competitive game to the end, but Florida High just couldn't get the hit it needed.
"I thought we had a good chance against Villages and hats off to them," Seminoles head coach John Hollenbeck said. "They're a well-coached team and have an excellent pitcher. He shut down a few of our hitters tonight that have been coming through clutch down the stretch. I liked our chances, but this time of the year it comes down to competing and executing. We had some opportunities early in the game and we didn't get the timely hits."
Florida High was only able to get three hits off of junior pitcher Carter Parks, two of which came off the bat of senior UCF commit Drew Faurot. The Buffalo's defensive unit stunned a Seminoles team that came in red hot, winning 15 straight and upsetting Pensacola Catholic for its second straight regional title.
"There's was no substitute for hard work. This was a hardworking group of young men," Hollenbeck said. "They practiced hard. Extra ground balls, extra time on the field hitting. They worked their tails off all year and we had a great bunch of guys. We had the train on the track there and they respected their opponents. They weren't intimidated, but they worked hard."
Junior Riley Walsh scored the lone run for the Seminoles on a walk, which at the time put Florida High up 1-0. Sophomore pitcher Kyler Thorp pitched the bulk of the game, allowing no runs on two hits and striking out three over four innings. Senior Boone Hosey pitched from the fourth out, allowing three runs on six hits and striking out three.
The loss is an emotional one for Florida High as it not only stops a hot run dead in its tracks but ends the high school careers of a large senior class. The Seminoles graduate six seniors: Faurot, Hosey, Mitchell Phillips, Nicolas Fonseca, Ethan Miller, and Reagan Pfeiffer. It's a senior class that wasn't just talented but set a standard of success since they entered the program in middle school.
"This core group of seniors has come through this program as middle schoolers and they set the tempo for the program," Hollenbeck said. "They were the leaders and our players followed them. They were good leaders in the classroom and on the field. You need your seniors to lead and that's what they did this year."
4A-1: No. 3 Arnold 6, No. 6 Wakulla 3
The third and fourth inning stung the War Eagles in the final result, seeing Arnold outscore the War Eagles 6-2 and eventually run to a 6-3 victory. Wakulla played a competitive game against the Marlins but just couldn't get the runs they needed.
Both teams finished the night with seven hits, but it was the War Eagles' two errors and Arnold's two home runs that proved to be the difference. Senior John Pierini brought in two of Wakulla's three runs off of one hit, senior Levi Anderson got on base twice off of two walks and senior Austin Hamilton recorded a team-high three hits.
Wakulla burned three arms in the finish, seeing Brandon Cook pitch the bulk of the game, allowing six runs off of seven hits and striking out four over five innings. The War Eagles end their season at 15-11 and graduate seven seniors: Anderson, Hamilton, Brayden Lawhon, Briyaun Butler-Moore, Cook, Pierini, and Jacob Hammond.
2A-1: No. 6 Aucilla Christian 4, No. 3 North Florida Christian 0
In every meeting this season, North Florida Christian found a way to beat Aucilla Christian. Whether the Warriors went up 6-2 or 4-0, the Eagles found a way to walk away with a win, until Wednesday afternoon.
Meeting in regional quarterfinals, the Warriors scored four runs in the eighth inning to snap the streak and propel Aucilla Christian into semifinals with a 4-0 win. Sophomore Emma Vickers dominated the game all around, batting in two runs on one hit and allowing no runs on six hits, and striking out four over eight innings in the circle.
Junior Madison Rudd and eighth-grader Lauren Davis also brought in runs for the Warriors. Aucilla will travel out to Jacksonville on Monday to take on University Christian in regional semifinals.
North Florida Christian finishes its season at 10-6 and graduates three seniors: Ramsey Shiver, Anna Calvert, and six-year varsity squad veteran Emma Brice.
2A-1: No. 2 University Christian 15, No. 7 Wakulla Christian 0
Two teams drew at-large bids to send them out to Jacksonville and unfortunately their nights ended early. Wakulla Christian was over at University Christian and was quickly overwhelmed by the Christians. UC piled on five runs in the fourth, four runs in the second, and three in both the fourth and fifth, to end the game with a 15-0 win.
The Saints weren't able to pull a hit off of pitcher Sophia Kardatzke (0 H, 0 R, 11 K), but got on base six times off of walks. Freshman Nikki Hudson led the team in walks with two on the night. Wakulla Christian stayed with Madison Chester throughout the night, who finished with three strikeouts.
The Saints finish their season at 15-8 and graduate one senior: Aubriana Edmondson.
2A-1: No. 1 Trinity Christian 16, No. 8 Munroe 0
The other team in Jacksonville that had its handful was Munroe. The Bobcats faced the hefty challenge of taking on top-seeded Trinity Christian to open up regional play. The Bobcats were able to shutout the Crusaders in the first but a six-run second, seven-run third, and three-run fourth saw TC run away with the game in a 16-0 Crusaders win.
Freshman Gabrielle Hughes was able to get the lone hit off of Carolyn Lasater. Eighth-grader Mariateresa Jiminez also got on base off a walk. Munroe finishes its season at 14-8 and graduates three seniors: Ta'maiya Jackson, Marlee Carpenter, and Gracie Stephens.
3A-1: No. 5 Florida High 14, No. 4 North Bay Haven 1
Coming out of the district championship game with a sour taste in their mouths, Florida High took it out on North Bay Haven on the road in a dominant 14-1 win. The Seminoles were flaming hot at-bat as they sent the ball over the wall five times on the night.
Junior Jaysoni Beachum hit two home runs, giving her four in three games and 12 on the year. Junior Anna Green, junior Maddie Mayo, and sophomore Cannon Ramsey also sent shots over the wall in Panama City. Beachum finished with an impressive RBI of six. In the circle, junior Breana Barnes allowed one run on three hits and struck out three over five innings.
Florida High gets a chance at redemption in semifinals as they will travel out to the Jacksonville area to rematch against Baldwin on Tuesday. The Indians edged past Episcopal, 2-1.
4A-1: No. 5 Wakulla 5, No. 4 Yulee 2
I'm going to say it, Class 4A Region 1 has been an absolute wasteland. Not only did the No. 8, No. 6 and No. 5 seeds win, but West Florida won in a walk-off in 17 innings over Bishop Kenny, which was the only top 4 seed to win in this region. It has been mad, and the War Eagles' upset win over Yulee, 5-2, was the most normal thing about quarterfinal play.
Freshman Kaylee Walker brought in two runs while junior Riley Davis and senior Brooklyn O'Neal brought in two more. Davis was on fire as she found home plate three times for score. The War Eagles leaned on their top pitcher freshman Charley Butler for the bulk of the game, allowing two runs on four hits and striking out nine.
Due to all the chaos in 4A-1, Wakulla will now be hosting a semifinals games as Clay will travel to Crawfordville on Tuesday.
Jack Williams covers prep sports for Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @jackgwilliams.