HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES OF THE WEEK

Birkle tosses back-to-back no-hitters for Oak Hall


Published: Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 11:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 11:45 p.m.

On March 22, Oak Hall senior pitcher Haley Birkle struggled with her command in what was a tough day as the Eagles were clipped 15-0 by District 3-3A rival P.K. Yonge.

Upset by her outing, Birkle spoke with the Oak Hall softball team's assistant coach Kyle Reed, who is also the husband of Eagles coach Nikki Reed.

“He spoke to her and calmed her down,” Nikki Reed said. “He told her it was her senior year and that she had to mature a little bit as a pitcher and come out and throw strikes, no matter what is going on.”

Birkle, an Augusta State University (Ga.) signee, bounced back and responded in big way.

The left-hander earned three wins, worked 12 innings and did not give up a hit or allow an earned run, while going 7-for-11 at the plate as Oak Hall went 3-0 last week.

“I am very proud of her to throw three really good games.She really impressed me with the control she had of her pitches this week,” Nikki Reed said. “She is one of our most consistent hitters and always finds a way to get on base.”

In an 18-1, five-inning district-win over St. Francis, Birkle posted her first no-hitter of the week. She did not allow an earned run, struck out 12, walked three batters and helped herself out by collecting two hits, scoring three times and knocking in a run. Two days later, Birkle pitched three innings with seven strikeouts and three walks as she combined with Angelica Seader to no-hit Ocala Christian in a 17-0, five-inning win. Birkle was 3-for-3 at the plate, scored twice and drove in three runs. The next day, she tossed four no-hit frames as Oak Hall pounded St. Augustine St. Joseph 17-0. Birkle struck out nine and walked one in addition to going 2-for-3 with three runs and three RBIs.

“Anybody you play, they can still get hits and we have never had someone at Oak Hall (10-4) throw two no-hitters and be a part of another one in one week,” Nikki Reed said. “That is a very hard thing to accomplish and I am very proud of her to be able to come out and have a week like that after having the bad game a week before.

“She is one of our most important players, we have to rely on her arm and if she comes out and has command of her pitches, I feel like we'll have a good chance at a district title this year and advance in the playoffs.”

Baseball

DARREN SKAWIENSKI, TRENTON: The senior was 7-for-9 at the plate with six RBIs and one run scored as the Tigers posted a 2-1 mark last week. The right-hander worked four shutout innings but got a no decision in Trenton's 5-1 loss at Santa Fe, before picking up the win with four innings of work as the Tigers beat Hilliard 8-1 in a District 6-1A game.

Softball

TAYLOR BOWEN, SANTA FE: The senior picked up two wins and posted a 0.46 ERA in 15 innings as the Raiders went 3-0 last week. The Polk State College signee no-hit District 5-4A foe Bradford, striking out 11 with no walks in a 1-0 Santa Fe win to highlight the week.

Track and Field

KENRIC YOUNG, GAINESVILLE: The sophomore won a pair of events and was second in another at last week's Alachua County Track and Field Championships. He placed first in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.16 and also won the 400-meter dash in a personal best time of 48.32. Young also turned in a personal record time of 10.82 to place second in the 100-meter dash.

Boys weightlifting

HARRISON SMITH, HAWTHORNE: The junior won the 154-pound class in the Hornets dual-meet with Fort White last week. He bench pressed a personal record 280 pounds followed by a personal best clean-and-jerk of 210 pounds for a winning total of 490 total.

Lacrosse

MADISON O'LEARY, OAK HALL: The sophomore midfielder scored 11 goals and handed out two assists as the Eagles defeated Ponte Vedra Nease and Winter Park Trinity Prep last week.

Honorable mention

Baseball

PHOENIX SANDERS, BUCHHOLZ: The junior right-hander suffered a tough luck loss as the Bobcats fell 1-0 at Ocala Forest last Friday. He did not allow an earned run, gave up two hits, struck out seven and walked one.

DAVID LEE, BUCHHOLZ: The sophomore right-hander pitched 5 1/3 shutout innings and earned the win as the Bobcats edged Forest 1-0 last Tuesday. He allowed two hits, struck out four and walked two batters.

ADRIAN GONZALEZ, NEWBERRY: The Panthers went 1-2 in three games, but the senior shortstop, a Florida State College at Jacksonville signee, went 8-for-10 for the week. He drove in 10 runs, scored four times, belted three home runs and stole three bases.

WILL JOHNSTON, NEWBERRY: After being sidelined with a shoulder injury, the senior pitched a no-hitter in his first start of the season as the Panthers pounded Bell 12-0 in five innings. He struck out six and walked six in the win.

STEPHEN SMITH, TRENTON: The Tigers went 2-1 last week and the sophomore shortstop was 4-for-10 with five runs scored. He also tossed five shutout innings in Trenton's victories over Branford and Hilliard.

JOSH TILESTON, SANTA FE: The senior was 5-for-11 with two runs scored as the Raiders went 2-1 last week. He earned the win with 4 2/3 shutout innings of relief, allowing two hits, with two strikeouts and three walks as Santa Fe edged Fort White, 8-7 in 10 innings.

SHANE METZLER, SANTA FE: The senior outfielder was 5-for-9 at the plate as the Raiders went 2-1 last week.

GRANT MARIS, ST. FRANCIS: In a pair of wins for the Wolves last week, the senior went 7-for-8, with three stolen bases, two RBIs and one run scored. He also struck out seven, walked seven and gave up one earned run on four hits in a complete-game victory as St. Francis topped Hawthorne 11-6.

LOREN HENDRICKSON, EASTSIDE: The sophomore right-hander pitched a complete game as the Rams edged Hawthorne 5-3 for their first win of the season. He allowed no earned run on eight hits, while striking out nine, without walking a batter.

Softball

JESSIE ELY, GAINESVILLE: The senior pitched 10 shutout innings to earn both of the Hurricanes' wins last week. She tossed a complete-game, one-hit shutout versus Groveland South Lake in a District 5-6A contest, before pitching three shutout innings of relief in a 6-5 win over Ocala Trinity Catholic.

AMANDA DONOVAN, GAINESVILLE: The junior center fielder went 4-for-7 with two RBIs, one run scored and one stolen base as the Hurricanes went 2-0 last week.

ANGELICA SEADER, OAK HALL: The senior shortstop was 8-for-10, including three doubles, one triple and one home run, drove in eight runs and scored six times as the Eagles were 3-0 last week. She also pitched two innings of relief, striking out four and walking one and combined with Haley Birkle on a no-hitter as Oak Hall defeated Ocala Christian 11-0.

CECILE GOMEZ, FORT WHITE: The Jacksonville University signee highlighted Fort White's 2-1 week as she no-hit P.K. Yonge, striking out eight and walking one. She also went 3-for-7 at the plate with three runs scored for the week.

SAVANNAH JERKINS, SANTA FE: In three Raiders' wins last week, the junior center fielder went 6-for-10, including one home run and one triple in addition to four runs, five RBIs and two stolen bases.

ASHLEY JOHNSON, BRADFORD: The Tornadoes went 1-2 in three games last week, with the senior catcher going 6-for-9 at the plate. The UAB signee had two doubles and one home run, scored three times, knocked in four runs and picked off a pair of base runners.

Track and field

DENNIS MCGEE, GAINESVILLE: The senior won the shot put (53-09) and the discus (138-11) at last week's Alachua County Track and Field Championships.

Lacrosse

LAYNE WEITZEL, OAK HALL: The senior co-captain had an assist and anchored the Eagles defense in a pair of wins last week.

Athletes of the week are determined by nominations from area coaches. Coaches are asked to call in every Sunday between 4-7 p.m., 374-5050.

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