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Moore Haven poised to grow after solid season

Summer Gopher makes solid contact for a hit against Bradenton Christian on May 5. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

MOORE HAVEN — Had this season been like previous ones, the Moore Haven High School softball season would have continued past the district tournament.

But despite being runner-up in their district and compiling a 13-5-1 record, the Terriers saw their season end May 5 with a 7-1 loss to visiting Bradenton Christian in the Class 2A-District 11 championship game.

Teams that finished runner-up in district tournaments used to automatically qualify for regionals, however, the selection process is now done by a power ranking for the runner-ups. Moore Haven’s ranking fell outside of the top eight spots that qualify.

The good news for the Terriers is that they will return nearly their entire team next season. What appeared to be a rebuilding year at the start of the season – the team had only two seniors – instead turned into a successful one in the win column.

“We had a significantly better season than we did last year,” said coach Jaryaca Baker.

In addition to Baker, the tribe was well represented on the field with Preslynn Baker, Tahnia Billie, Summer Gopher and Halley Balentine. In the final game, Baker (pitcher), Billie (third base) and Gopher (shortstop) started.

The Terriers were on an 8-1-1 roll heading into the final, but hadn’t played a game in about two weeks due to weather and forfeits by opponents. They also played the championship game without three starters, who were replaced by eighth graders. Needless to say, rust and nerves were factors as Moore Haven struggled in the field at times.

“We [hadn’t] played in two weeks. That hurt us,” Baker said.

Preslynn Baker and Gopher were among the team’s strongest hitters all season. Baker led the team with five home runs and tied for the team lead with three doubles; Gopher had the most doubles with four.

Coach Baker said she liked what she saw from her team this season and is looking forward to next year.

“This is one of the best teams I’ve ever coached because of the amount of effort, the want-to-be-here,” she said. “Our record shows it.”

Moore Haven pitcher Preslynn Baker winds up for a pitch against Bradenton Christian. (Photo Kevin Johnson)
During a break in action, Moore Haven coach Jaryaca Baker chats with her sister Preslynn (11) and Tahnia Billie (20). (Photo Kevin Johnson)
Halley Balentine warms up for the Terriers. (Photo Kevin Johnson)
Summer Gopher gets ready to field at shortstop. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

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Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson is senior editor. He has worked for The Seminole Tribune since 2014. He was previously an editor, photographer and reporter for newspapers in Southwest Florida and Connecticut. Contact Kevin at kevinjohnson@semtribe.com.
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