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Sarasota baseball and softball teams turn toward postseason

With a week to go in the regular season, some area teams are playing their best ball.

Sarasota High baseball freshman Johnny Lackaff has shown an ability to get clutch hits this season.
Sarasota High baseball freshman Johnny Lackaff has shown an ability to get clutch hits this season.
Photo by Ryan Kohn
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The 2024 Florida High School Athletic Association baseball and softball seasons will come to an end next week — but that is when the real fun will begin. 

Here are the teams in contention for a playoff run and how they are hitting their stride, or not, as the most important time of year arrives. District tournament play will begin April 29. 


In Class 3A, Cardinal Mooney High (10-7-1) has won eight of its last 10 games, including a current five-game streak, as of April 15. 

The Cougars have done it with offense: Mooney has put up 123 runs through 18 games, good for 6.8 runs per game. Junior Eddie Zaun is leading the way with a .405 average, seven doubles, a home run and 12 RBIs, but seven other Cougars are also hitting over .300. 

On the mound, the Cougars have taken a by-committee approach, with 13 Cougars making at least one pitching appearance and five Cougars throwing 15 innings or more. The team has a 2.93 ERA, so it has worked well enough thus far. 

The Cougars have not played any of its district foes as of April 15, so evaluating the team's chances in the district tournament is difficult, but Calvary Christian (18-1) appears to be the biggest threat. If the Cougars' offense stays steady, though, they should be able to keep it close with anyone. 

In Class 7A both Sarasota High and Riverview High are under .500. The Sailors have lost four of their last five games as of April 15 and have not found a solution to their offensive woes: They have been shut out in three of the four most recent losses. Meanwhile, the Rams (9-12) had won six games in a row before dropping two straight to Barron Collier High (14-6) and Lakewood Ranch High (10-9-1). The Rams averaged 6.5 runs per game during the winning streak, but scored just one run in each of the two recent losses. 

The two teams will meet at 7 p.m. on April 24 at Sarasota High, a final chance to grab momentum before the district tournament begins. Both teams will likely have to reckon with Venice High (17-3) and Lakewood Ranch on the way to a district title, but both teams are capable of taking down good teams when at their best. It's a matter of playing well at the right time. 


Riverview High still looks like a legitimate contender in Class 7A. The Rams are 15-3 as of April 16 and have won seven games in a row. Three of those wins have been shutouts, another sign of just how dominant junior pitcher Allison Cole has been. She now holds a 1.12 ERA and has struck out 192 batters in 99.2 innings while walking just 66 batters. 

The team's offense has come alive, too, scoring double-digit runs in two of the last three games. While the Rams are not a power team — they have yet to hit a home run — they have the speed required to leg out extra bases. Junior Sierra Lipton's five triples are particularly impressive.

Riverview High junior pitcher Allison Cole has a 1.12 ERA in 2024 as of April 16.
Photo by Ryan Kohn

If there's a team that could dash Riverview's hopes earlier than the Rams would like, it could be Sarasota High. The Sailors are just 7-8, but have played the Rams close twice, with each game ending 3-2. They have also found a rhythm: Sarasota won five games in a row from April 1 to April 9 before a 6-4 loss to Palmetto High and one of the aforementioned losses to Riverview. Like the Rams, the Sailors have benefitted from strong pitching. The team holds a 2.64 ERA and has been led by sophomore Ashlan Guengerich, who has a 2.22 ERA over 47.1 innings. 

The Sailors' offense, which had an inconsistent start to the season, has also come around to find consistency. Four Sailors regulars — junior Mady Pint (.390), senior Abbey Johns (.372), junior Sommer Speers (.370) and junior Lydia Kaskey (.314) — are hitting above .300, and unlike the Rams, the Sailors do have game-changing power. Sarasota has hit six home runs this year, three coming from junior Carley Ramsden. 

A district tournament rematch between the two teams would be a lot of fun. 

At Cardinal Mooney High, the Cougars have romped through their schedule to hold an 11-3 record, but a lack of top teams on the schedule makes the club a difficult evaluation in terms of making a deep postseason run. The Cougars have a strength of schedule of -7.35 according to the FHSAA, and as a result are ranked No. 39 in Class 3A, despite their stellar record. 

What's not a difficult evaluation, however, is the play of Mooney's top hitters. Freshman Olivia Lockhart is hitting .674 with four doubles, six triples, seven home runs and 41 RBIs. Senior Madison Duncan is hitting .568 with three doubles, four triples, a home run and 24 RBIs. That pairing could hit no matter the level of competition. And when five other Cougars, all freshmen or sophomores, are hitting .400 or better, it becomes a whole lineup worth your attention, not just this season, but for the next several seasons. 

If the Cougars can keep up that level of offense into the postseason, there's no limit on how far the team can go. 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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