Despite a resurgence in several sports this school year, a state championship has eluded Palmetto.
The Panthers will try to change that when its baseball team makes its first appearance at the state final four in a decade Friday when it takes on Orange City University (24-6) at 4 p.m. Friday in a Class 9A state semifinal at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.
The Panthers (22-6) have yet to win a state title in baseball, but arrive at state with a confident team that has lived up to lofty preseason expectations.
Although they did not win their district, Palmetto scored impressive playoff victories over nationally-ranked Columbus and later South Dade and Coral Gables to make it to state.
In addition to a deep pitching staff led by 6-5 senior lefty Matthew Turner (9-1, 81 strikeouts, 1.77 ERA), the Panthers have been led by clutch hitting and defense from senior catcher Eddy Arteaga (.394, 19 RBI), senior infielder Nick Labrada (.400, 15 RBI), senior outfielder Nick Deegan (.319, 18 RBI) and junior shortstop Victor Valderrama (.350, 16 RBI).
Palmetto will need a strong effort at the plate if it is to overcome University ace Logan Allen, an FIU signee with a low-to-mid-90s fastball. Hes 12-0 in 12 starts with a 0.38 ERA, 140 strikeouts and allowed only four earned runs and 10 walks this season.
The Florida Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame will hold its Class of 2017 induction ceremony on Aug. 12 in Lake Buena Vista.
The black tie optional banquet will take place at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort beginning at 6 p.m.
This year’s inductees include Belen Jesuit coach Fidel Albelo, current Cypress Bay and former South Broward coach Allen Held, Miramar coach Henry Jackson, Venice coach Dan Kelly and Bradenton area coach Bob Thomas, and the late coach Russell A. Mauger Jr., who will be inducted posthumously.
Tickets for the event can be purchased at fl-nwhof.ticketleap.com.
St. Thomas Aquinas’ father-son combination of Kevin and Terry Crowley swept the state’s Player and Coach of the Year awards for the second consecutive season after again leading the Raiders to a state championship.
Kevin Crowley, a Hofstra University signee, had 67 goals and 34 assists this past season to secure the Player of the Year trophy. Terry Crowley has compiled a 131-16 record over the past nine seasons at Aquinas and led the Raiders to 40 wins in their past 41 games. His career record is 412-43.
Coral Springs Charter, which became the first Broward school to win three consecutive state titles, still has a shot at being crowned national champions by MaxPreps.
The Panthers, who went 30-1 this season, are ranked No. 3 behind a pair of California teams — Norco (32-0) and Los Alamitos (26-3) each of which are still playing in that state’s postseason.
State baseball finals
When: Through Saturday.
Where: Centurylink Sports Complex — Hammond Stadium, 14100 Ben C. Pratt Six Mile Cypress Parkway, Fort Myers.
Admission: $9 in advance, $12 per day at the gate.
Parking: $10 for cars, $50 for buses.
Thursday’s results — Class 6A: Archbishop McCarthy 5, Lynn Haven Mosley 3; Tampa Jesuit 7, Dunedin 0; Class 5A championship: Jacksonville Bolles 7, Orlando Bishop Moore 2; Class 7A championship: Ponte Vedra Nease vs. Tampa King, inc.
Friday’s semifinals — Class 8A semifinals: Nova vs. Tallahassee Lincoln, 10 a.m.; Sarasota vs. Oviedo Hagerty, 1; Class 9A semifinals: Miami Palmetto vs. Orange City University, 4; Jupiter vs. Orlando Timber Creek, 7.
Saturday’s finals — Class 6A: Archbishop McCarthy vs. Jesuit, 12:35; Class 8A: 4:05; Class 9A: 7:35.