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Young Terriers picking up wins

Moore Haven High School pitcher Preslynn Baker winds up against Clewiston High School March 24, 2022. (Photo Kevin Johnson)

MOORE HAVEN — It wasn’t long ago when Moore Haven High School was a force on the softball field.
The Terriers reached the state final four three times from 2014 to 2019 – including one appearance in the title game – and two other years their seasons ended in the regional finals.

During that impressive stretch, Moore Haven featured experienced teams loaded with juniors and seniors. That’s not the case this year as the young team is in the midst of a learning-as-you-go season. In fact, the team’s roster resembles a junior varsity or middle school in regard to experience. Ten eighth-graders are on varsity, including starters at first and third base. Many of those young players don’t have a background with club or travel teams.

“We have a lot of kids who are inexperienced. They are catching on quickly,” said coach Jaryaca Baker, from the Brighton Reservation.

The team has only two seniors and one junior.

Growing pains are to be expected, such as a couple of lopsided losses incurred early in the season, but there have been plenty of bright spots so far, too, such as wins against Avon Park, Community School of Naples, Glades Day and Lehigh.

“I want them to understand that we don’t have to have the biggest or best players to be good,” said Baker, whose assistant coach is former Terrier player Monica Devine.

The team entered April with a 5-3 record.

In addition to the head coaching position, the Seminole Tribe is well-represented with freshman starting pitcher Preslynn Baker, sophomore starting shortstop Sumer Gopher and young reserves Halley Balentine and Tahnia Billie (out for the season with an injury).

Preslynn Baker, the younger sister of the coach, smacked three home runs within the first few games of the season. She and Gopher are among the team’s top hitters. Baker bats clean up followed by Gopher, who had a big night in a 10-6 win against Lehigh with two hits and three RBIs.

Coach Baker said she is pleased with her entire team’s work ethic, which should bode well for this year as the Terriers seek to continue postseason success now and in the coming years.

“All of them work hard; that shows a lot to me,” she said.

Moore Haven High School shortstop Summer Gopher gets into defensive position against Clewiston High School on March 24, 2022. (Photo Kevin Johnson)
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