The Westminster Christian Warriors are two wins away their 11th state title, which would tie Key West for the most baseball championships in Florida history.
Warriors coach Emil Castellanos is focused on his team’s first opponent at Fort Myers’ JetBlue Park, which is a Class 3A state semifinal against Canterbury (23-3-1) on Monday.
But Castellanos hasn’t lost sight of the big picture.
“Key West has the belt,” Castellanos said of the Florida record. “If we could match them, that would be a tremendous accomplishment.”
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Getting there won’t be easy.
Canterbury, a Fort Myers-based team, should have the home-crowd advantage. In addition, Canterbury, which had lost seven consecutive regional playoff games over an 18-year period, broke through last season, making it to the Class 3A state semifinals.
Perhaps this is a team ready to make the next step.
Westminster Christian (22-7-1) will throw its ace, UCF recruit Ryan Terry, a senior right-hander who is 10-1 with a 1.85 ERA. Terry started all three regional games for Westminster.
If the Warriors advance to Tuesday’s 4 p.m. final, they will face either Tallahassee’s North Florida Christian (20-9) or Bishop McLaughlin (26-3).
Bishop McLaughlin, making its first trip to state, is led by 6-6, 240-pound senior first baseman/pitcher Nate Pearson, an FIU recruit who has hit seven homers and is 9-0 with a 1.17 ERA.
North Florida Christian, the defending state champion in Class 3A, has an interesting history with Westminster. In a 1997 state semifinal, Westminster, coached by Rich Hofman, routed NFC and coach Mike Posey 26-0 in five innings.
Posey waited 14 years to get revenge. NFC beat Castellanos and Westminster 7-1 in a 2011 state semifinal, spoiling the Warriors’ attempt at going for three consecutive championships.
This time — if the matchup were to happen — it would be the Warriors looking for revenge.
NFC has two pitchers who have committed to Florida State — 6-4 junior lefty Cole Ragans and 6-3 senior right-hander Cole Sands — and the Warriors would face one of them in that scenario. In three regional games, the two Coles combined to strike out 40 batters and walk just two. All three games were shutouts.
If the Warriors make it to the state final, the identity of their starting pitcher has yet to be determined. It could be senior right-hander Jagr Enriquez — yes, he was named after NHL star Jaromir Jagr. Enriquez, who has a submarine delivery, is 3-1 with a 0.34 ERA, but his availability will depend on whether he is needed in relief Monday.
Another option is senior right-hander Isaiah Musa, a Miami Hurricanes recruit whose 94-mph fastball is more impressive than his current statistics (2-2, 5.04 ERA).
Perhaps the most intriguing option is senior Julian Infante, a Vanderbilt recruit who has pitched just two innings this season. Infante is one of the best hitters in the state — he is batting .464 with 13 homers and 37 RBI. But, apparently, he can pitch, too.
Deerfield Beach had three basketball players sign with colleges. Jahmad Wilburn signed with Webster University, Victoria Hadler signed with the University of South Carolina Upstate, and Lewayne Grant signed with Columbia College.
Archbishop McCarthy had three athletes sign with colleges. Volleyball player Julia Monash signed with Belmont Abby College, and soccer players Felipe Pachon and Matthew McLennon signed with Rollins College and Eastern Florida State College, respectively.
▪ Miami-Dade All-Star game — South d. North, 25-22, 22-25, 30-28, 21-25, 15-7: The South was led by the Palmetto duo of Julian Hunt, who had eight kills and four blocks, and Devin Decker, who had 10 service points and seven kills. Daniel Sainz from Southwest led the team in kills with 11. The North was led by an impressive effort from La Salle’s Andres Saladrigase, who had eight kills and eight blocks.