Playoff high for area teams

Gainesville High School's Tyler Holt cheers his teammates during last Friday's district final game against Ocala Forest. No. 3 GHS hosts Fleming Island in a regional playoff tonight.

Tracy Wilcox/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

Tonight, three local softball teams will be looking to play their way into next week's FHSAA state semifinals in Plant City, and 13 area baseball teams will be starting a playoff journey they hope ends in Sarasota in two weeks.

At least one local softball team will get as far as Plant City because District 5-3A champion Chiefland (21-3) will host its runner-up Dixie County (13-8) with the winner facing the Coconut Creek North Broward Prep (18-9)-Miami Gulliver Prep (20-8) winner next Monday in the state semifinals.

In Class 2A, Region 2 Lafayette (16-9) will host an old nemesis in Tallahassee North Florida Christian (15-10), which has eliminated Natalie Land and Co. from the basketball regional finals in each of the last two seasons.

One of the more enticing baseball regions is 4A, Region 1.

There, six of eight teams sport at least 22 wins and a top-7 ranking. Included in the bunch is No. 3 Gainesville (26-2), which has won eight straight games and will send lefty ace Luke Smierciak (9-0), a Florida State signee, to the mound to face also receiving votes Fleming Island (22-5) in the regional quarters.

Possible future regional opponents include top-ranked Bartram Trail (25-2), No. 6 Tallahassee Lincoln (22-5), No. 7 Springfield Rutherford (22-5), No. 2/USA Today No. 21 Pace (24-3) and No. 5/USA Today No. 20 Niceville (22-4).

Hurricanes' coach Adam Souilliard said his team has belief in itself.

"The guys are riding high," Souilliard said. "Everyone's goal is to get to the state championships and win a state championship.

"Their confidence in their ability is very high right now."

Not far across town, Buchholz (20-8) will host Bunnell Flagler Palm Coast (21-6) in 6A, Region 1. In 4A, Region 1 Santa Fe (16-12) will welcome Fernandina Beach (21-7), while Palatka (19-7) will take on visiting Crystal River in Region 2.

Class 3A, Region 2 will include a pair of local matchups.

Keystone Heights (18-8) will travel to Williston (16-6), and Chiefland (18-5) will go to Union County (21-4), which is hoping to give 500-plus win coach Terry Stroemer a state championship before he retires at season's end.

In 2A, Region 2 Oak Hall (15-11) will host Jacksonville Providence (19-7), and Branford will welcome Tallahassee Maclay (10-15). Trenton will visit North Florida Christian (20-6), and Hawthorne will travel to defending state champion Jacksonville Arlington Country Day (16-5).

And in 1A, Region 1 St. Francis (8-16) will make its first-ever postseason appearance when it travels to Tallahassee FAMU (10-11).

John Patton is The Sun's high school sports editor. Contact him at 352-374-5074 or

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