Collapses and letdowns happen all the time in sports.
Whether its brackets busting when No. 2 seeds fall to 15 seeds in the NCAA basketball tournament or the New England Patriots having their perfect season shattered in the Super Bowl by the New York Giants, upsets can be just as popular as teams winning championships.
However, when upsets happen in high school sports, they carry different emotions. After all, the teams being upset are 14- to 18-year-old kids, not athletes on full-scholarships or professional players with multi-million-dollar contracts.
The Strawberry Crest softball team avoided an upset in the Class 6A-11 tournament last week, holding off Leto 3-0. It was a Leto team that upset the top-seeded Lady Chargers a year ago in the district tournament.
Older and more focused, Strawberry Crest, again the No. 1 seed, was determined not to let that happen again. Thanks to 12 strikeouts in a one-hit performance by pitcher Sammy Tyler, SCHS got the Leto monkey off of its back and charged into the district championship, where it beat tournament host Sickles 3-0 after another strong performance from Tyler.
Although the result was what the Lady Chargers wanted, the numbers were a far cry from the performances earlier in the season, where they outscored district opponents 119-1 in 10 games.
It could have been postseason nerves, but I think it’s safe to say that SCHS wasn’t overlooking anyone after the way it went out last season.
For the Lady Chargers, it didn’t matter by how much they won. Now that they are district champions, they can turn their focus to regionals and some less familiar opponents.
That starts Thursday against Palmetto, the District 12 runner-up.
SCHS has only lost two games this season, in one-run games against Chamberlain (9-8) and Bartow (6-5), last year’s Class 7A state champion and runner-up, respectively.
With that kind of résumé, even after low-scoring wins in the district tournament, the Lady Chargers shouldn’t be afraid of anyone. If Tyler (1.09 ERA) keeps pitching the way she has, SCHS will be tough to beat, much less if they start swinging the bats the way they did leading up to the district tournament. SCHS currently has four players — Mia Fung, Cacey Simmons, Trystan Reibsome and Aly Masessa — batting over .400 with at least 50 at bats.
Upsets can happen at all levels, especially with young high school players, but something special seems to be building at the Dover school located off of Interstate 4.
You don’t have to look far to find equal success in other area programs. The Durant softball team repeated as Class 8A-7 champions last week and open regionals against East Lake Thursday, at home.
No strangers to winning, the defending Class 8A state champions have been on a roll since dropping their first two district games of the season.
Plant City fell short of winning the Class 7A-8 championship last week, losing 3-2 to East Bay, but the Lady Raiders began the regional stage this week as they faced Bartow Wednesday night.
It is a great sign that all three area high school softball teams are finding success and should make for interesting years to come if the new reclassification finds them in the same district and classification next year.