Lake Brantley softball in Sentinel Super Six after winning program’s first district title

J.C. Carnahan, Orlando Sentinel
·4 min read

Despite a lull late in the regular season, Lake Brantley emerged from one of the toughest softball districts in the state last week to become district champions for the first time.

The Patriots defeated Oviedo 7-2 for the Class 7A District 3 title after beating Hagerty 3-0 in a semifinal to qualify for regional play for just the second time in program history. Lake Brantley lost in the quarterfinal round in 2016 as a district runner-up in its only other postseason appearance.

“It’s a feeling I’ve never felt before,” said Lake Brantley senior Reagan Sienkiewicz. “I’ve been playing softball with these girls since I was little, and to think that some of my closest friends and I could [accomplish] that was so awesome.”

Lake Brantley enters FHSAA regional tournament play Thursday at home against Timber Creek as the No. 4 ranked team in the Orlando area Sentinel Super Six.

Undefeated Orange City University, which ranks No. 10 nationally according to MaxPreps, is the area’s top-ranked team as the Class 7A District 2 champion. Class 4A’s Eustis ranks No. 2 followed by 6A Winter Springs at No. 3.

“We kind of went into a little funk at the end of the season, but the team bonding we did [entering the district tournament] has helped a lot,” Lake Brantley coach James Bayly said. “We’re starting to play like we played at the beginning of the season, which was very much together and not as individuals.”

Senior Gabby Sacco anchors the team in the circle with an earned run average of 1.18 and 140 strikeouts in 107 innings pitched. Sacco also ranks second on the team with a .354 batting average and five extra-base hits.

The Patriots opened the spring with a 3-2 loss vs. University then won nine in a row before an injury to junior pitcher Hannah Marien dampened the mood in late March. Marien, who is questionable to return, recorded no-hitters in wins against Seminole (11-15) and Montverde Academy (10-10) and had tallied 67 strikeouts and allowed just three earned runs in 33 innings pitched.

Lake Brantley split its next six games, including four outings at the Kissimmee Klassic spring break tournament, where one-run losses came against Super Six No. 5 Clermont East Ridge and Bartow (24-3). Four consecutive wins and then three straight losses against Winter Springs, Eustis and Melbourne (24-2) rounded out the schedule.

“Being so good early and winning so many games, then all of a sudden hitting a block of three losses in a row, was a gut check for us,” Bayly said. “It brought us down to reality. But this is still a special team.”

FHSAA regional quarterfinal games take place Wednesday in Class 4A, 3A and 2A and Thursday in Class 7A, 6A and 5A. Below is the softball Super Six rankings entering regional tournaments.

Sentinel Super Six

1. Orange City University (22-0): Junior Grace Taylor owns a 0.61 ERA with 181 strikeouts and four shutouts in 115 innings pitched. Junior shortstop Aminah Vega is batting .582 with 12 home runs and 43 runs scored. Next: Thursday vs. St. Johns Bartram Trail (17-10).

2. Eustis (22-1): Sophomore Libby Levendoski has tallied 215 strikeouts allowed only eight earned runs in 118 innings pitched. Senior Isabella Andujar has homered seven times while batting .438 with 30 RBI and 24 runs scored. Next: Wednesday vs. Merritt Island (12-15).

3. Winter Springs (18-7): Senior Taylor Krapf and freshman Hannah Booth have both come up big at the plate for the Bears. Krapf is batting .448 with five home runs and 18 RBI. Booth is batting .422 with six doubles and 24 RBI. Next: Thursday vs. Neptune Beach Fletcher (14-9).

4. Lake Brantley (18-7): Sophomore Kiley Strott leads the Patriots in nearly all offensive categories with a .447 batting average, six home runs, seven doubles and 25 RBI. Sophomore Kiki Beltre has scored 19 runs and stolen six bases. Next: Thursday vs. Timber Creek (10-13).

5. Clermont East Ridge (19-7): Senior Madi Wicker has pieced together an all-around effort this spring for the Knights. Wicker is batting .500 with 44 hits, 25 RBI and 14 stolen bases and has compiled 13 pitching wins while striking out 92 batters. Next: Thursday vs. Davenport Ridge Community (13-10).

6. Oviedo (18-5): Sophomore Angelee Bueno and freshman Riley Fennell have each hit eight home runs and have 22 RBI. Bueno leads the team with a .460 batting average . Catherine Buckner has a 1.80 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 89.2 innings. Next: Thursday at Winter Park (19-2).

Second Six: 7. Winter Park (19-2), 8. Groveland South Lake (21-4), 9. Lake Howell (13-12), 10. Hagerty (16-10), 11. Apopka (20-6), 12. Lake Nona (17-6).

This article originally appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email J.C. Carnahan at jcarnahan@orlandosentinel.com.