Strawberry Crest High softball coach Mindy Miltner told her players to appreciate being members of this year’s squad, because high school teams with that caliber of players don’t come often.
Of the seven seniors on this year’s team, six have signed letters-of-intent to play at the collegiate level, highlighted by reigning Hillsborough County Player of the Year Mia Fung (USF), shortstop Megan Reed (Florida) and pitcher Sammy Tyler (Saint Leo).
After an early, and disappointing, exit in the Class 6A region semifinals last year, Miltner said this year’s team is focused on winning a state title. “They came in this year with a different mentality,” she said. “They know this is their last year, and they want to leave a legacy at Strawberry Crest.”
Some of the seniors are four-year varsity players who have been together since their days in Little League.
“They’ve played in championship games and they’re not afraid of competition,” Miltner said.
This month, the Chargers (8-1) will play in the Sarasota Slam and a tournament at Bartow High, two of the premier tournaments in the Central Florida area. The Chargers were moved up to Class 7A this season and are ranked No. 9 in the latest 7A state poll.
“I feel like our lineup is tough all the way through,” Miltner said.
Team effort leads Bulls under first-year coach
Under first-year coach Mandy Schuerman, Bloomingdale is undefeated (9-0) and ranked No. 9 in Class 8A in the latest Miracle Sports Florida Softball Poll. Putting in a true team effort, she said, is the reason for the Bulls’ strong start.
“I feel like every game, someone steps up and somebody does something big,” said Schuerman, who was an assistant coach at Bloomingdale two years ago under longtime coach Mike Clamon, but left to pursue a coaching job at Florida International University. “It starts from putting bunts down and executing on offense to shutting it down on defense. And with Lace (Smith) on the mound, there’s not much better than that right now. We’re very lucky.”
Bloomingdale defeated Alonso, 2-1, in a District 7 game Tuesday, led by Smith’s 10 strikeouts. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Darby Bernaldo laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Smith over to second base, and Sammy Seldon got the winning RBI to score Smith from second.
“If you look at most of our hitting throughout our lineup, we’re almost all 1-for-3, everyone is getting a base hit,” Schuerman said. “There’s really not anybody you pitch around to get to somebody else on our team, because you never know who is going to step up. It’s a great feeling as a coach.”