Plant City and Strawberry Crest finished in first place in their respective districts.
When the action for districts 8A-4 and 8A-6 wrapped up for the 2019 season last week, two area teams came out on top looking to make some noise in the upcoming tournaments. Both the Plant City Raiders (18-2; 7-1 district) and Strawberry Crest Chargers (11-8; 3-1 district) won their April 18 games to finish in first place — Plant City with a 10-0 win over East Bay and Crest with a 4-3 win at Wharton.
After a 2-1 win at Bloomingdale on March 16, Plant City’s offense picked back up to the level of production it’s been at for much of the 2019 season and peppered the visiting Indians to the tune of 10 runs on nine hits. Cole Cothren and Casey Mawhinney had a great day at the plate, as Cothren went 2-for-3 with a run scored and three RBI while Mawhinney went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI. But perhaps the Raiders’ most valuable player on the day was pitcher Tyler Dowdy, who threw a 53-pitch no-hitter with nine strikeouts through the game’s five innings.
The win completely guaranteed Plant City the 8A-6 tournament’s top overall seed. Riverview and Bloomingdale each finished with 5-3 records in 8A-6 play.
Crest, meanwhile, started its April 18 game in control over the Wildcats and never lost it. Led by senior Tanner Kelley (3-for-3, two runs scored, one RBI), five Chargers combined for seven hits and four runs scored (four earned) through five innings against Wharton starter Brian Baughman. That gave Crest a 4-1 lead after the fifth. Wharton had some luck on both sides of the ball with its ensuing pitching change in the sixth, though: Carson Caso and the defense kept the Crest offense completely off the scoreboard and stat sheet, and the Wildcats offense came to life with two runs in the sixth inning. Though the Chargers were unable to score in the top of the seventh inning, reliever Kade Manderscheid helped starter Alex Marshall preserve the win by stopping Wharton when it mattered most.
The win put Crest into a first-place tie with Wharton thanks to a split of the teams’ season series, creating a coin-flip scenario to determine the top seed in the district tournament.
The 8A-6 tournament begins at 7 p.m. May 6 at Plant City High School. Strawberry Crest will host the 8A-4 tournament beginning at 7 p.m. May 7. Both district championship games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m. May 9.