Softball | Season Preview

Gulliver on mission to make history

 

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KEY DATES

March 1-2 Speedball tournament

March 14-16 SlamFest tournament

March 28-30 Kissimmee Klassic

April 15-19 Districts

April 23-24 Regional quarterfinals

April 26Regional semifinals

April 30 Regional finals

May 8-11 State tournament at Vero Beach Sports Village

DEFENDING STATE CHAMPIONS

Class 8A: Plant City Durant; 7A: Tampa Chamberlain; 6A: Pembroke Pines Charter; 5A: Plantation American Heritage; 4A: Gulliver; 3A: Delray American Heritage; 2A: Boca Raton Grandview Prep; 1A: Mayo Lafayette.

TOP RETURNING PLAYERS

P Jennifer Acevedo, Doral, So.; P Gabbee Draney, Gulliver, Jr.; P Christie Falcon, Coral Gables, Sr.; P Kelli Kleiss, Westminster Christian, Jr.; P Samantha Lanzas, Southwest, Sr.; P Geneva Santos, Miami Springs, Sr.; INF-P Carsyn Gordon, Coral Reef, So.; INF Brittany Husk, Westminster Christian, Jr.; INF Caitlin Charlton, Westminster Christian, Jr.; INF Addy Garcia, Florida Christian, So.; INF Crystal Garcia, Gulliver, Jr.; INF Kathleen Acevedo, Doral, Sr.; C Catie Falcon, Coral Gables, Sr.; C Carolina Rodriguez, Lourdes, Sr.; C Emily Rodriguez, Palmetto, Sr.; C Kaitlyne Musa, Westminster Christian, Jr.; OF Melissa Costero, Goleman, Sr.; OF Megan Greenwell, Palmetto, Jr.; OF Gaby Spallone, Palmetto, Sr.; OF Natalie Lopez, Westminster Christian, Jr.; OF Anie Palmeiro, Florida Christian, So.

CLASS OUTLOOKS

CLASS 8A

1. Palmetto (Coach Emilio Exposito, 1st year). Last year: 23-7-1 (State runner-up). Top players: OF Megan Greenwell, Jr.; OF Gaby Spallone, Sr.; C Emily Rodriguez, Sr.

2. Southwest (Coach Ray Blanco, 1st year). Last year: 19-7-1 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: P-INF Samantha Lanzas, Sr.; SS Alexandra Castellanos, Sr.; 2B Emily San Nicolas, Sr.; CF Amanda Laguardia, Sr.

3. Coral Reef (Coach Dario Rodriguez, 1st year). Last year: 16-9 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: SS-P-3B Carsyn Gordon, So.; P Dayna Wilson, Sr.; OF-3B-SS Kylan Becker, So.; OF-INF Cassandra Garcia, So.

4. Lourdes (Coach Chrissy Boyett, 3rd year, 27-12). Last year: 12-6 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: C Carolina Rodriguez, Sr.; P Vanessa Flores, Sr.; P-2B Amanda Marrero, Sr.; SS Amanda Senra, Jr.

5. Coral Gables (Coach Natalie de la Vega Carreno, 7th year). Last year: 22-5 (Regional finalist). Top players: P Christine Falcon, Sr.; C Catie Falcon, Sr.; 1B Lauren Perna, So.; CF Crystal Dingle, Jr.

6. Miami Springs (Coach Charles Green, 25th year, 391-116). Last year: 19-6 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: P Geneva Santos, Jr.; 3B Carolina Acosta, Sr.; C Nicole Fernandez, Sr.; P Taylor Navarro, Sr.

7. Killian (Coach Ryan Ricke, 2nd year, 12-10). Last year: 12-10. Top players: SS Emily Demurias, Jr.; C Amanda Luis, Sr.; P-OF Andrea Munoz, Jr.; 3B-OF Kristen Munoz, Jr.

8. South Dade (Coach John Spicer, 3rd year at SD, 4th overall, 48-17). Last year: 16-5. Top players: CF Elizabeth Diaz, Sr.; SS Crystal Bennett, Sr.; SS-3B Nikki Rosado, Sr.; P-OF-C Samantha Cardillo, Sr.

9. Goleman (Coach Orlando Barreda, 6th year, 103-35). Last year: 16-9. Top players: UT Melissa Costero, Sr.; SS Sharon Zamora, Sr.; P Francis Santos, Sr.; C Angie Montalvo, Jr.

10. Varela (Coach Jennifer Cerda, 1st year at VAR, 5th overall). Last year: 13-6. Top players: P Giselle Mesa, Jr.; SS Kayla Leon, So.; C Kristin Blanco, Jr.; 3B-P Ashley Granada, Jr.

11. American (Coach Art Simon, 8th year). Last year: 15-6 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: 3B-P Kayleen Romero, So.; SS Alexandra Fernandez, Jr.; P-3B Andrea Rincon, Jr.; CF Michelle Murch, Jr.

12. Braddock (Coach Addy Marcote, 23rd year, 323-202-4). Last year: 12-8. Top players: OF Natalie Benedit, Sr.; 3B Katelyn Martinez, Sr.; INF-P Beatriz Navarro, So.; C-OF Crystal Parrales, Jr.

13. Sunset (Coach Nick Cesarano). Last year: 9-11. Top players: P Damaris Miguez, Sr.; C Jazmine Miguez, Sr.; OF Yessenia Castro, Sr.; INF Michelle Valbuena, Sr.

14. Ferguson (Coach Marcela Del Rosario, 1st year). Last year: 5-7. Top players: P Yesenia Mondragon, Jr.; CF Ivy Cooper, Sr.; SS Jessica Chavez, So.; LF Brianah Varona, So.

15. Southridge (Coach Michelle Cerda, 6th year at SR, 11th overall). Last year: N/A. Top players: SS Lexi Leger, Sr.; CF-P Katie Serrano, Sr.; .

16. Coral Park (Coach Horacio Sierra, 12th year). Last year: 4-15. Top players: 1B Kassandra Diaz, Sr.; P Kimberly Avalos, Sr.; C Jenny Montano, So.; SS Natasha Dominguez, So.

17. Dr. Krop (Coach Krista Latessa, 8th year, 70-42). Last year: 10-6. Top players: UT Bri Oliver, Sr.; OF Bri Upshur, Jr.

CLASS 5A

Mourning (Coach P.J. Flaherty, 2nd year at ATM, 13th overall). Last year: 16-4. Top players: P Taylor Fisher, Jr.; SS Veronica Arteta, Sr.; 1B Adina Martinez, Sr.; 3B Veronica Tovar, Jr.

CLASS 4A

1. Gulliver (Coach Mark Schusterman, 29th year, 585-165). Last year: 27-5 (State champions). Top players: 3B Ashley Leon, Sr.; 1B-P Stephanie Texeira, Sr.; P-OF Gabbee Draney, Jr.; C-3B Toria Rios, So.

2. Doral Academy (Coach Walter Acevedo, 6th year, 60-50). Last year: 14-11 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: SS-P Kathleen Acevedo, Sr.; P-1B Jennifer Acevedo, So.; 3B-SS Samantha Lageyre, So.; CF-1B Melody Grafals, So.

3. Ransom Everglades (Coach Joe Mancuso, 9th year). Last year: 15-12 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: SS Gaby Henriquez, Jr.; OF Jennifer Deutch, Sr.; P Gaby Jadotte, 7th; OF Leticia Beeck, Sr.

4. TERRA (Coach Crystal Martinez, 1st year). Last year: N/A. Top players: SS Oceana Camejo, Fr.; P Tayler Sanchez, Fr.; 1B Samantha Boellard, Fr.; 3B Amanda Portal, So.

5. Carrollton (Coach Alex Consuegra, 10th year at CAR, 17th overall). Last year: 13-6. Top players: C-1B Marianne Sevilla-Sacasa, Jr.; INF Laura Valentine, Sr.; INF-P Cara Vazquez, Sr.; INF Laura Rabassa, Jr.

6. Mater Lakes (Coach Giovanni Lorenzo, 3rd year, 22-18). Last year: 14-7 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: INF-C Jasmine Harris, Sr.; INF-P Alyssa Rodriguez, Fr.; C-OF Arlene Calleiro, So.; 1B-OF Heylin Rivera, Jr.

7. Monsignor Pace (Coach Carlos Perez, 1st year). Last year: N/A. Top players: P Briana Heredia, Sr.; P Sofia Dominguez, Fr.; C-3B Kristen Cazanas, Sr.; 2B-SS Natalie Leon, Jr.

CLASS 3A

1. Westminster Christian (Coach Scott Doan, 9th year at WC, 23rd overall, 460-129). Last year: 24-5 (Regional finalist). Top players: P Kelli Kleiss, Jr.; SS Caitlin Charlton, Jr.; 2B Brittany Husk, Jr.; C Kaitlyne Musa, Jr.

2. Florida Christian (Coach Scott Stemmer, 14th year). Last year: 15-12 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: P-2B-OF Anie Palmeiro, So.; 1B Addy Garcia, So.; SS Brianna Ernst, So.; 1B-P Karli Smith, So.

3. Archbishop Curley (Coach Beth Love, 9th year). Last year: 14-5 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: P-UT Megan Romanik, Sr.; 3B-P Jensen Rayburn, Sr.; C Erica Castanaza, Sr.; 1B Alyssa Lambert, Jr.

4. Miami Country Day (Coach Chris Antonopoulos, 13th year at MCD, 26th overall). Last year: 12-5 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: SS Avery Watson, Sr.; 1B Jenny Roude, Sr.; OF-INF-C Jenna Lilly, Sr.; C Jaclyn Lash, So.

5. Palmer Trinity (Coach Angel Torres, 2nd year, 5-9). Last year: 5-9. Top players: 1B Lindsey North, Sr.; CF Kelly Malloy, So.; DH Marina Bryant, Jr.; 2B Ashley Tagliero, Sr.

CLASS 2A

1. Miami Christian (Coach Bryan Diemer, 1st year). Last year: N/A. Top players: P-INF Janellene Lopez, Fr.; SS Jailene Rosado, Sr.; 1B Demi Rivera, Sr.; C Linda Russo, Fr.

2. Redland Christian (Coach Clyde Meredith, 6th year, 13-32). Last year: 7-8. Top players: P-INF Cheyenne Meredith, Sr.; LF-INF Kayla Davis, Sr.; 3B Rebekah Milburn, Sr.; SS Elizabeth Enriquez, Sr.


a1fernandez@MiamiHerald.com

Gulliver’s softball team joined some elite company by winning its third consecutive state title last season.

Should the Raiders win a fourth in a row this season, they would be one of the few to accomplish the feat in Miami-Dade County regardless of sport.

No Dade school in football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball or soccer has won four consecutive state titles.

Gulliver will try to become the first this season and join Naples (four in a row) and Bartow (five) as the only schools to ever win four consecutive softball state titles.

If it earns what would be the school’s sixth state title it would give Gulliver the most state titles of any softball team in South Florida. The Raiders enter the season tied with Plantation American Heritage and Hollywood Christian (each with five) in that category.

“Just thinking of what that could be like makes me that much more excited to get this season started,” senior third baseman Ashley Leon said. “It’s amazing. It’s mind-blowing. But I look at it the same as every year. We like to say, ‘In the event it happens.’ For now, we’re not thinking too much about it.”

Leon, who is committed to Auburn, is regarded as one of the top players in the nation at her position.

But this season she will step into a true leadership role following the departure of three longtime starters in pitcher Christina Gabriele (a George Mason signee with a 64-4 record during her career), outfielder Dominique Grossman (Georgia Southern) and reliable infielder Taryn Bray.

Leon and senior first baseman/pitcher Stephanie Texeira, an FIU commitment who has hit 30 home runs during her career, give the Raiders talented pitching and hitting.

The most key starting role is junior Gabbee Draney, who went 4-2 with a 1.64 ERA last season backing up Gabriele. She recently committed to Florida Gulf Coast University.

“We’re young but not so much that we’re not experienced,” Leon said. “Gabbee can dominate and [Texeira] is our backup pitcher. We lost a big batter with [Grossman], but we gained a couple of good fielders. The dynamic is good as a team, which is always important.”

Sophomore catcher Tori Rios and junior shortstop Crystal Garcia should also play key roles.

“In some respects we may have a deeper team than last year in the sense of having a lot of players contributing,” Gulliver coach Mark Schusterman said. “Obviously, we need Gabbee to pitch well, and she’s shown she’s quite capable of leading us to continued success.”

Title shots

Westminster Christian could give Dade another state title if a veteran squad can play consistently well this season.

Junior pitcher Kelli Kleiss (15-5, 1.24 ERA, 132 Ks) anchors a Warriors’ squad that should challenge American Heritage-Delray for a shot at the Class 3A state title.

Westminster’s infield is solid led by junior shortstop Caitlin Charlton, junior second baseman Brittany Husk, a Villanova commitment, junior catcher Kaitlyne Musa and eighth-grader Ally Mena at third. Junior center fielder Natalie Lopez leads the outfield.

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