Whether it’s graduation, transfers or other factors, it’s rare for any team in any sport at the high school level to keep the majority of its starting lineup together for three consecutive seasons.
Such has been the case for the Coral Reef softball team.
So why would expectations be any less than a state championship for a team that two years ago won its first?
The Barracudas, state champions in 2013, fell short last season at state to Oviedo Hagerty in Class 8A.
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Coral Reef, however, returns nearly its entire squad and knows this is the last chance for a talented group that made the school a softball powerhouse in Miami-Dade County.
“My expectations for our team are the same as the past two seasons,” Coral Reef coach Dario Rodriguez said. “We have a strong group of seniors who are not only excellent athletes but also good leaders.”
Senior third baseman Carsyn Gordon (FSU signee) and senior shortstop Kylan Becker (Mississippi signee) headline the talented group in the infield as each hit over .570 last season with seven home runs each.
The talented all-around starting lineup led by seniors Cristina Colli, Denver Keller and Cassandra Garcia must get consistent pitching from senior Michelle Mesa to be able to reach Vero Beach for the third consecutive season.
The road to state in Class 8A is tough once again with rival Miami Palmetto returning a talented group led by junior pitcher Amanda Guglietta.
Broward County also offers some tough potential obstacles.
West Broward is still strong in the region, and Cooper City and Cypress Bay pose potential roadblocks at state.
Westminster Christian was the county’s lone state champion last season.
But the Warriors lost their own longtime core of starters to graduation with seven starters off to college.
Among the biggest losses were infielders Brittany Husk (Villanova), Caitlin Charlton (Baylor) and Natalie Lopez (Florida Gulf Coast) and pitcher Kelli Kleiss (Northern Colorado).
To win another Class 3A crown, Westminster Christian will count on freshman Victoria Perez for solid pitching, as well as sophomores Aly Mena in the infield and Kia Benetiz in the outfield.
Doral Academy will again have one of the most talented squads in the county led by a core of four seniors — Jennifer Acevedo, Samantha Lageyre, Melody Grafals and Anieliese Palmeiro.
Whether the Firebirds can overcome defending Class 6A state champion Pembroke Pines Charter remains to be seen, but they should be one of the state’s best teams.
Gulliver graduated starting pitcher Gabbee Draney but returns a talented core led by senior catcher Tori Rios, a Lynn University signee, and should have a solid shot to return to state in Class 4A.
Among its top opponents will be arguably Dade’s most improved team — Monsignor Pace, which beat Palmetto and Coral Gables in the preseason.
March 5-6: Speedball Classic.
March 12-14: SlamFest tournament.
March 26-28: Kissimmee Klassic.
April 6-10: GMAC championship.
April 13-17: District tournaments.
April 22-23: Regional quarterfinals.
April 28: Regional semifinals.
May 1: Regional finals.
May 6-9: State finals at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach.
PRESEASON TOP-10 TEAMS
2. Doral Academy
3. Westminster Christian
4. Coral Reef
5. Monsignor Pace
7. Florida Christian
9. Coral Gables
On the rise: St. Brendan, South Dade, TERRA.
TOP 20 RETURNING PLAYERS
P-1B Jennifer Acevedo, Doral, Sr.; P Sofia Dominguez, Pace, Jr.; P-UT Amanda Guglietta, Palmetto, Jr.; P Michelle Mesa, Coral Reef, Sr.; P Anieliese Palmeiro, Doral, Sr.; P-OF Faith Vazquez, Florida Christian, Jr.; 1B Cassandra Garcia, Coral Reef, Sr.; 1B Karli Smith, Florida Christian, Sr.; 3B Carsyn Gordon, Coral Reef, Sr.; SS Kylan Becker, Coral Reef, Sr.; SS Brianna Ernst, Florida Christian, Sr.; SS Aly Mena, Westminster Christian, So.; SS Jessica Rivera, Gulliver, Jr.; 3B Samatha Lageyre, Doral, Sr.; C Melody Grafals, Doral, Sr.; C Tori Rios, Gulliver, Sr.; OF Brianna Bahadue, Gulliver, Jr.; OF Kia Benetiz, Westminster Christian, So.; OF Cristina Colli, Coral Reef, Sr.; OF Jessica Costero, Goleman, Sr.
OTHERS TO WATCH
P Alexis Castroman, American, Sr.; P-INF Natalie Costero, Goleman, So.; P-SS Kaylene Romero, American, Sr.; P-INF Chanel Wilson, Coral Gables, Sr.; P Tayler Sanchez, TERRA, Jr.; 2B Denver Keller, Coral Reef, Sr.; 3B-C Alexis Guzman, American, So.; 3B Erin Love, Palmetto, Jr.; SS Monica Marquez, Monsignor Pace, So.; OF Alyssa Flores, Braddock, Sr.; C Thea Ramirez, South Dade, Jr.; ; UT Beatriz Navarro, Braddock, Sr.; UT Mallory Ryan, St. Brendan, Sr.
NOTE: For complete team-by-team season outlooks, visit our High School Sports page at MiamiHerald.com/sports.
Andre C. Fernandez
BRADDOCK (Coach Addy Marcote, 25th year, 344-224-4): Last year: 11-12. Top players: SS-P Beatriz Navarro, Sr.; CF Alyssa Flores, Sr.; P-INF Genesis Brenes, Sr.
CORAL GABLES (Coach Natalie Carreno, 8th year): Last year: 11-11 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: P-INF Chanel Wilson, Sr.; SS Catarina Ruggiano, Sr.; P-INF Lauren Perna, Sr.; CF Aliana Bonilla, So.; C-3B Ashley Knapp, Fr.
CORAL PARK (Coach Horacio Sierra, 14th year, 112-136): Last year: 3-15. Top players: 3B Liz Landrian, Sr.; 1B Emily Gavin, Jr.; C Yusnai Beltran, Sr.; P Emily Garcia, Sr.
CORAL REEF (Coach Dario Rodriguez, 3rd year, 57-11): Last year: 22-9 (State semifinalist). Top players: 3B Carsyn Gordon, Sr.; SS Kylan Becker, Sr.; OF Cristina Colli, Sr.; 2B Denver Keller, Sr.; 1B Cassandra Garcia, Sr.; P Michelle Mesa, Sr.
DR. KROP (Coach Krista Latessa, 10th year, 97-52): Last year: 17-2 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: SS Bailey Miller, Sr.; 1B Brooke Studnik, So.; OF Deborah Vainstein, Jr.; P Karina Delarosa, So.; C Kassidy Klein, Jr.; UTL Taylor Coachman, Jr.
PALMETTO (Coach Emilio Exposito, 4th year at PAL, 7th overall): Last year: 18-8 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: P-UT Amanda Guglietta, Jr.; 3B Erin Love, Jr.; OF Victoria Rogers, So.; P Daijaa Williams, So.
SOUTHRIDGE (Coach Michelle Cerda, 6th year at SR, 12th overall): Last year: N/A. Top players: 1B Daniela Lozano, Sr.; P Alyssa Fonda, Jr.; UT Britney Campbell, Fr.; C Maya Elias, Jr.; UT Samantha Revilla, So.; OF Krystal Grant, Jr.
SUNSET (Coach Nick Cesarano): Last year: N/A. Top players: OF Emily Montes, Sr.; OF Laura Manegro, OF-P Sabrina Perez, Jr.; INF Naomie Valme, Jr.; INF Alexandra Poit, So.; INF Jerryann Britton, So.
AMERICAN (Coach Sergio Fernandez, 2nd year, 19-9): Last year: 19-9 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: SS-P Kaylene Romero, Sr.; 3B-C Alexis Guzman, So.; P Alexis Castroman, Sr.; 2B-SS Tyenna Colon, Fr.; 1B Chastity Velez, Sr.; C Vanessa Abreu, Sr.
REAGAN (Coach Jessica Fumero, 9th year): Last year: 10-2 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: P Melanie Isaza, Sr.
DORAL ACADEMY (Coach Walter Acevedo, 7th year, 88-66): Last year: 16-12 (Regional finalist). Top players: P-1B Jennifer Acevedo, Sr.; SS-3B Samantha Lageyre, Sr.; C-CF Melody Grafals, Sr.; P Anieliese Palmeiro, Sr.; 3B-SS Sydney Lageyre, Jr.; CF-1B Grethell Santos, Jr.
GOLEMAN (Coach Orlando Barreda, 8th year, 105-46): Last year: 17-9 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: CF Jessica Costero, Sr.; P-INF Natalie Costero, So.; INF-C Michiline Oliva, Jr.; C-INF Emily Bacallao, So.; OF Natalie Perez, So.; C-INF Kourtney Lohn, So.
TERRA (Coach Crystal Forjan, 3rd year at TERRA, 5th overall): Last year: 12-7. Top players: P Tayler Sanchez, Jr.; 3B Amanda Portal, Sr.; C Victoria Conway, Sr.; SS Ocean Camejo, Jr.; P Veronica Sanchez, Fr.; LF Allison Newsome, Jr.
FLORIDA CHRISTIAN (Coach Scott Stemmer, 16th year): Last year: . Top players: P-OF Faith Vazquez, Jr.; P-1B Karli Smith, Sr.; SS Brianna Ernst, Sr.; 3B Mayte Lezcano, So.; 1B-2B Addy Garcia, Sr.; C Brittany Suarez, Sr.
GULLIVER (Coach Mark Schusterman, 29th year, 638-177): Last year: 23-7 (State semifinalist). Top players: C-3B Tori Rios, Sr.; 1B Sofia DeSolo, Sr.; OF Brianna Bahadue, Jr.; OF Ana Hilton, Jr.; SS Jessica Rivera, Jr.; 2B Mia Bellengheiri, Sr.; OF Jessica Pagliery, Sr.
MONSIGNOR PACE (Coach Angel Torres, 1st year at MP, 6th overall, 62-21): Last year: 4-13. Top players: SS Monica Marquez, So.; P Sofia Dominguez, Jr.; C Kathleen Rios, Fr.; 3B Helen Rios, Jr.; 2B Cassidy Ziegler, So.; 1B Natalie Rodriguez, So.
RANSOM EVERGLADES (Coach Joe Mancuso, 11th year): Last year: . Top players: SS Tiffany McBrayer, Fr.; P Jaby Jadotte, Fr.; 3B Dani Lozano, Sr.; CF Sophia Petros, Jr.; 2B Abi Hyde, Jr.; RF Ximena Ulloa, Sr.
ST. BRENDAN (Coach Luis Padron, 2nd year, 14-5): Last year: 14-5 (Regional semifinalist). Top players: SS Eliza Artiles, So.; CF-P Mallory Ryan, Sr.; C Gabriella Moya, Sr.; 2B-P Stephanie Parrilla, Sr.; 3B-2B Victoria Lara, So.
ARCHBISHOP CARROLL (Coach Jeff Blanchard, 1st year): Last year: 8-8. Top players: 1B Jennifer Blanchard, Sr.; C Maylin Gonzalez, Sr.; P Justine Cinalli, Jr.; P-INF Maddie Hefty, Fr.; SS Julie Martinez, So.
MIAMI COUNTRY DAY (Coach Chris Antonopoulos, 15th year at MCD, 28th overall, 141-91): Last year: 13-2 (Regional quarterfinalist). Top players: P Taylor Sennett, Jr.; C Jaclyn Lash, Sr.; SS Elizabeth Finny, Sr.; 2B Taylor Mashburn, Sr.; OF Micaela Milkota, Sr.; INF-OF Madison Bolton, Sr.
PALMER TRINITY (Coach Jennifer Cerda, 1st year at PT, 7th overall): Last year: 5-10. Top players: SS Kelly Malloy, Sr.; UT Maia Suazo-Maler, Sr.; P Lauren Keller, So.; C Paty Martinez, Jr.; UT Marisa Morales, Fr.; INF Allison Galgano, Fr.
WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN (Coach Scott Doan, 11th year at WC, 24th overall, 538-137): Last year: 28-3 (State champions). Top players: SS Aly Mena, So.; OF Kia Benetiz, Westminster Christian, So.; P Victoria Perez, Fr.; 2B Carlyn Labuzan, Sr.; P-OF Brooklyn Maguire, Fr.; OF-2B Madison Precht, Fr.