It may not seem like it, but there were still some high school athletic events around earlier this month.
March 12 was the last meaningful day for high school sports within the Four Corners News-Sun coverage area. That day also happened to mark the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s decision to cancel the Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, along with all other winter and spring championships scheduled for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year.
On St. Patrick’s Day (March 17), the Florida Department of Education announced that all public and private K-12 schools would be closed through April 15.
As of press time for this story, the Florida High School Athletic Association’s last update regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak came the following day (March 18) where it announced the decision to postpone all scheduled athletic events until further notice. The FHSAA also reiterated that it was not ready to cancel spring sports altogether and its decision to continue the season would involve 1) if schools are back in session after April 15; 2) whether federal, state and local authorities allow for the opportunity to resume activities; and 3) what additional recommendations and guidance are available.
On March 16, the FHSAA stated that no final decisions had been made concerning state series or state championships events, and playoff rankings for baseball and softball would not be released until further notice. (Check the FHSAA website for the most up-to-date information on the status of the current season.)
The move to April 15 not only removes a significant portion of the remaining regular-season schedules, but some FHSAA spring sports were originally set to begin postseason competition prior to that date.
Highlights from among the games played March 12 involving area teams:
* East Ridge High’s softball team improved to 7-0 with a 7-2 victory over Windermere High as Brooke Theisen went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI, Madi Wicker finished 2-for-3 with one run and one RBI and Hayley Fisher collected two hits and scored two runs. Pitchers Isabella Hernandez (2-for-4 at the plate) and Wicker also combined on a five-hitter for the Knights, who took control with a pair of three-run innings.
East Ridge hit .359 as a team and scored 69 total runs over its opening seven games.
* The Ridge Community High softball team used a 13-run first inning to defeat Lakeland Christian 21-0. The Bolts raised their overall record to 5-4 and that included 13-0 wins over Tenoroc and Tohopekaliga earlier in the month.
* Aided by a 16-goal first half, East Ridge’s girls lacrosse team improved to 8-1 with a 24-1 victory at Lake Minneola. Meanwhile, the Knights’ varsity baseball team had a three-game winning streak stopped with a 3-1 loss to South Lake as Najer Victor (2-for-3) drove in a run in the second inning for East Ridge.
* The Haines City girls tennis team dropped a 5-2 decision to Auburndale. Darla Joseph not only posted a 6-0, 6-0 victory at No. 2 singles for the Hornets, but she also teamed up with Keren Alves to win 8-4 at No. 1 doubles.
* Haines City’s baseball team returned home after a successful two-game stint at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The Hornets (6-3) lost 8-1 to visiting Sebring, one day after sweeping East Hall (Ga.) High at Disney by scores of 7-2 and 3-2.
* A pair of Class 7A-District 6 baseball teams – Ridge Community and Osceola – matched up in Kissimmee. Anthony Cole recorded his third and fourth RBIs of the season in the third inning for the Bolts, but the end result was a 9-2 victory for Osceola. Cole (10-for-26, .385), K.J. Rivera (11-for-30, .367) and Justin Martinez (8-for-25, .320) represented Ridge’s top hitters through 10 games.
* Haines City’s softball team played its first one-run game of the season – a 6-5 loss to Mulberry – while Celebration High had a 10-0 softball defeat at Windermere Prep. Elsewhere, Celebration’s boys lacrosse team fell to 3-4 with an 18-2 setback to Bartow High.