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Manatee / Sarasota County Elite 8 Coaches Poll - Week 3, 2024

Palmetto's won three straight heading into the Bay Made Fastpitch Elite Invitational.

The Elite 8 Coaches Poll is back for another season. We’ve polled our coaches on the South Suncoast and have another set of rankings ready to go for another week of high school softball!


Here’s how the coaches saw things after Week 3.

1. Parrish Community, 4-1 (3 first-place votes) / 1st last week


Three outs from a perfect week, the Bulls were victims to a six-run, seventh inning rally from Bloomingdale on Thursday, falling 6-5 to suffer its first loss of the season. Parrish Community did just about everything right in that game – it struck for seven hits and five runs against fireballing lefty Natalie Cable and senior pitcher Rylee Little struck out 12. Regardless, wins over a previously undefeated Sumner and a 14-run victory over Lakewood Ranch where Alex Call, Julia Girk and Mackenzie Pandelo clubbed homers highlighted another strong week for the defending state champions. Parrish Community participates in the Bay Made Fastpitch Elite Invitational this week – and a Class 5A State Semifinal rematch between the Bulls and River Ridge will be a dandy on Thursday.


2. Inspiration Academy, 6-2 / 2nd last week


Just like Parrish, the Lions were extremely close to a perfect week. Instead, a pair of one-run losses saw them split their games at the Home of Champions Tournament in Bartow. Overall, another strong week for IA, which took down defending Class 4A State Champion Lake Wales, 6-5 and was right on the heels of Lake Region and Montverde Academy. The duo of Elle Hildreth and Emma Szabo worked a combined 1.04 ERA in 28.2 IP, while Iowa State signee Danika Best posted a big 8-for-17 at the dish and Avery Bouquin homered twice in Bartow. Inspiration Academy takes on Tampa Catholic and Bradenton Christian in Week 4.


3. Manatee, 5-2 / 3rd last week


There seemed to be no answers for the Hurricanes against Tampa Catholic freshman lefty Olivia Ricciardi, who two-hit Manatee in a 9-1 victory. That was about as uncharacteristic a loss as this team has had early on and they bounced back with a run-rule victory over Bradenton Christian on Thursday. The ‘Canes banged out 15 hits on the strength of a 4-for-4 night from Hope Jordan and Baelee Garland connected on her third homer of the year. They’ll face Palmetto on Tuesday in their lone game this week.


4. Riverview, 6-1 / 4th last week


Isabella Thompson and Allison Cole each had RBI in Riverview’s lone game in Week 3, a 2-0 victory over Charlotte (Punta Gorda) on Thursday. Cole was stellar in the circle, yet again, striking out 15 in a complete game two-hitter. The lefty now has a six-game hitting streak to go along with 83 total strikeouts – she’s on a 300-punchout pace. Riverview is off this week and will be back in action to face Lakewood Ranch on Mar. 18.


5. Palmetto, 3-3 / 7th last week

An extra inning win over Sarasota and a 4-0 win over Lakewood Ranch that finished the regular season sweep of the Mustangs got the Tigers back to .500 on a three-game win streak. Palmetto’s been able to get the big knocks when they need it – evident in Kayley Allison’s three-run homer that walked off Sarasota and Kristen Allison’s two run-scoring singles to get Palmetto past Lakewood Ranch for a second time. Makenna Lee and Desiree Aitken did not allow an earned run – Palmetto’s allowed just two runs total in its last three games. The Tigers travel to Manatee, then face Plant and Hernando in the first two rounds of the Bay Made Fastpitch Elite Invitational.


6. Venice, 3-2 / 5th last week


The Indians also hold a three-game winning streak after taking down Charlotte (Punta Gorda), 8-4, on Tuesday. Riley Sullivan went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBI and two runs scored, and classmates Kaylin and Raionna Smith joined her with two-hit nights. Layne Preece earned the victory and lowered her season ERA to 0.88 after not allowing an earned run. Venice heads south with games against Jupiter, South Fork (Stuart) and Seminole Ridge (Loxahatchee) on deck.


7. Sarasota, 1-4 / 6th last week


Heartbreak at Palmetto denied the Lady Sailors their first win, but they would not be denied in their return to Manatee County when it earned an 8-2 win over Braden River on Thursday. Abbey Johns drove in three and tripled and Carley Ramsden drove in a pair in the victory. Sarasota’s off this week for Spring Break before returning to the diamond as a part of a five-game road swing that continues at Lakewood Ranch.


8. Braden River, 4-3 / NR last week


Although Lakewood Ranch holds a head-to-head win over the Pirates, a 2-1 week saw Braden River bump the Mustangs out of the poll. LSU signee Jada Phillips has home runs in each of her last three games and is one round tripper away from tying a career best for a season (she hit six as a freshman and a sophomore). The Pirates look to sweep the regular season series with Cardinal Mooney on Tuesday before a return fixture at home vs. Lakewood Ranch.


Also receiving votes:


Bradenton Christian, 2-2: The Panthers have Southeast and Inspiration Academy on the docket in Week 4.


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