Tyler Derner, Fivay
Derner, a 6-foot-5 senior outfielder, is one of many players having a good offensive season for the Falcons. Statistically, he's not the best hitter on the team, although his .396 average isn't too shabby. But on Tuesday night against Class 5A, District 7 rival Nature Coast, Derner came up with the biggest hit in a 5-2 win.
With one out and two runners on in the bottom of the sixth inning against Nature Coast ace Jonathan Gates, Derner ripped a double that scored two runs and tied the score. It was his second hit of the night. One batter later he scored what turned out to be the winning run when Thomas Delfel singled him home.
"I just cleared my mind and looked fastball," Derner said. "I was able to turn on it."
Fivay ended the week by defeating Cypress Creek. The Falcons (14-6) have won four straight.
Their success this season is mainly due to its offense. As a team they hit .351 and have eight home runs. Four of those are from Gunnar Hoglund.
"I've got a team full of hitters," coach C.J. Smith said. "We can hit top to bottom. It's just a matter of getting enough opportunities and we'll make it happen."
Derner does have one home run, but his specialty as the No. 2 hitter is to spray the ball all over the field and get on base. Nature Coast's Gates is a left-hander with a fastball that is over 90 mph. He didn't give up an earned run all season until Derner got his hit.
Now that the Falcons know they can compete against a top pitcher, confidence is sky high for the postseason in two weeks.
"If we can hit a pitcher like J.P. then we can hit anyone," Derner said. "That should give everyone on our team a boost of confidence. It should be a season changer."
Dianisty Bolden, Largo
As the gun sounded, Bolden was keeping pace with the other sprinters.
The Largo junior did not have their company for long.
By the final few meters, Bolden bolted ahead of the field, winning the 100- (12 seconds) and 200-meter (24.92) races with ease at the Class 3A, District 10 meet.
She was 0.42 seconds faster than her closest competitor in the 100 and 0.40 ahead of the field in the 200.
Bolden was not finished. She also ran legs on the second-place 4×100 (50.97) and 4×400 (4:15.49) relays.
While it seemed easy, Bolden's victories were laborious.
Earlier this season, Bolden injured her knee when a classmate collided with her while playing kickball. It was not serious enough to require surgery, but the injury has caused her pain.
"It hurts more when I get to longer races," Bolden said.
But it has not really slowed her down.
Last month at the FSU Relays, Bolden ran the 100 in 11.70 and the 200 in 24.38. Her time in the 100 is tied for the fourth fastest in the state and her time in the 200 is the 10th fastest.
There also have been some adjustments. The injury is to Bolden's left knee, the one she uses to push off in the blocks at the start of races. She now tries using her right foot.
At districts, the pain was noticeable in the prelims. So Bolden bought a knee brace and used it for the first time in the finals.
"My times were not as fast I could have gone," she said. "But I won, and I moved on and that's what matters most. Now I have to work even harder in the region and state meets."