District Tournaments Preview: Talent ensures exciting 8A-3 tourney
| 4:00 a.m. April 16, 2015
DISTRICT TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
Class 2A District 4 (CFCA, Foundation)
WHEN: Starts April 20; championship game at 4 p.m. April 23 at Foundation Academy
Class 3A District 6 (Windermere Prep)
WHEN: Starts April 21; championship game at 7 p.m. April 24 at The First Academy (Orlando)
Class 8A District 3 (Ocoee, Olympia, West Orange)
WHEN: Starts April 20; championship game at 7:30 p.m. April 24 at West Orange
Class 8A District 4 (Dr. Phillips)
WHEN: Starts April 21; championship game at 4 p.m. April 24 at Boone
Here’s half of what you need to know about Class 8A District 3 and its upcoming district tournament: Olympia is the No. 1 team in the nation, as ranked by at least two reputable polls (USA Today and MaxPreps).
Not just the region, not just Florida, not just the Southeastern United States — but the entire nation.
It is important to remember as context for the other half of what you need to know, because it means that West Orange, Ocoee and Apopka — three good teams that would be district championship contenders in most other districts around the state — are, in theory, at least, left to battle for the Class 8A District 3 runner-up slot and its accompanying berth in the FHSAA Class 8A State Playoffs.
Which isn’t to say the Titans (21-0, 8-0 in 8A-3) are unbeatable, as evidenced by several close calls that coach Chuck Schall’s veteran club has withstood. But it means baseball fans should be in store for quite a week, starting on April 20 with the No. 4 vs No. 5 game between Ocoee and Evans.
“It’s probably going to be more competitive than it’s ever been,” West Orange coach Jesse Marlo said of the 8A-3 tourney, noting the improvement of Ocoee’s program, in particular. “It’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out. I’m sure it’s going to be some really good baseball.”
Marlo’s Warriors (14-9, 4-4 in 8A-3), hosts of the tournament, enter as the No. 3 seed this season, just behind the Blue Darters (18-6, 5-3 in 8A-3). Those two programs will meet in a semifinal to decide which team advances to the district final on April 24 — and the state playoffs.
Marlo’s squad, which is younger and not quite as deep as it has been in recent memory, has played better in the past few weeks as highlighted by a strong showing last week in two close losses to Olympia — one of which came in a 10-inning thriller on April 8 in a game that was televised on local cable.
“We’ve grown a lot and matured a lot on the baseball field since the beginning,” Marlo said. “(Olympia) just had more timely hits when they needed it, and we didn’t. … (This week) showed us that if we go out there and play our best baseball, we’re one or two hits away from beating these guys.”
To get a third shot at the Titans, the Warriors will have to first defeat the Blue Darters in a winner-takes-all showdown, after splitting two games with Apopka in the regular season.
Ocoee (15-9, 3-5 in 8A-3) should have its way with Evans, which is 0-8 in the district, in the 4-5 game before taking on the Titans in the semifinals.
While Olympia will, of course, be a heavy favorite in the 1-4 game, the Knights did have a good showing in a 10-inning defeat to the Titans earlier this season and have a strong core of senior leadership to fall back on to make for a more intriguing matchup than meets the eye.
Lakers, Panthers optimistic entering respective district tournaments
The Dr. Phillips Panthers have rattled off three consecutive wins, starting with a victory over Ocoee on April 2, helping the Panthers (11-11) gain some momentum heading into the Class 8A District 4 Tournament. Dr. Phillips, the No. 2 seed, will play Cypress Creek at 4 p.m. April 21 in the semifinals and, if victorious, will advance to the state playoffs and likely face No. 1 seed Boone in the district championship April 24.
Despite an up-and-down season, the Panthers have accumulated a 4-2 record in district play and are hopeful for another shot at the Braves, who have handed them both of their district losses.
In Class 3A District 6, Windermere Prep (16-4) is looking toward the district championship and beyond, entering next week’s tournament at The First Academy as the No. 1 seed with a 3-0 record in district play.
The Lakers will play Cornerstone Charter, whom they defeated 10-0 earlier this season, in the No. 1 vs No. 4 semifinal to earn a place in the district championship and the Class 3A State Playoffs. There, Windermere Prep will play the winner of the other semifinal between TFA (16-6, 2-1 in 3A-6) and Orangewood Christian (9-12, 1-2 in 3A-6).
The Lakers have won nine in a row and are allowing just 2.5 runs per game thanks to a dominant pitching staff, anchored by Austin Bergner.