It’s not every day that Jacksonville high school baseball gets the SportsCenter treatment.
So Tuesday night’s highlight was one to remember at Raines.
Raines shortstop Nick Joyner picked up a moment of fame in Tuesday night’s High School Heritage Classic, the baseball contest against Ribault that not only raises the curtain for the prep season but celebrates the legacy of the Jacksonville Red Caps, now officially recognized as the city’s first team with major league status.
Joyner produced the night’s biggest highlight, racing backward from the infield for a twisting, diving catch behind second base in the Vikings’ 16-5 victory to retain the A. Philip Randolph Cup.
The result: By the next morning, his catch made it onto the SportsCenter Top 10 for ESPN.
Raines scored six runs in the fourth to pull away in the game, which had been rescheduled after a rain-out early in February.
BK’s Roberts in elite company
The record books are finally complete on Jasmyne Roberts‘ high school career, with numbers to be remembered for many years to come.
The Bishop Kenny senior and Miami signee, whose season ended in the FHSAA girls basketball semifinals against national No. 2 Orlando Lake Highland Prep, finishes among the top 10 for Northeast Florida high school girls hoops scorers at FHSAA member programs, although records are not complete for all years at all schools.
With 2,224 points over four years, at Yulee in her freshman year and at Bishop Kenny since, Roberts is tied for eighth with Sheila Tomlinson of Keystone Heights, who played for the Indians from 1983 to 1987.
Keystone’s Monique Cardenas holds the area record among FHSAA players, with 2,805 points from 1994 to 1998. Shante Williams (now Stevens), current head coach at Ribault, scored 2,780 points from 1999 to 2003, most among players with FHSAA schools within Duval County.
For area players beginning their FHSAA high school careers since 2000, only Ribault’s Rennia Davis (2,304, 2013-17), Hilliard’s Brianti Saunders (2,300, 2009-13) and Ponte Vedra’s Megan Piggott (2,254, 2011-15) are listed with more points.
Roberts also finished with 1,005 career rebounds.
She scored a team-high 12 in the season finale, as Bishop Kenny made the national power Highlanders work for the win after cutting the lead to five points in the fourth quarter. Underscoring the Crusaders’ effort: Lake Highland Prep went on to rout Fort Pierce Lincoln Park, 84-30, in the Class 4A final.
Locals look ahead to lacrosse showcase
Through years of chasing state championships, and ultimately winning one in 2019, Ponte Vedra boys lacrosse coach Tom West has been hoping to find opportunities to help move the sport into the spotlight.
Now, one is on the way.
“It’s come so far,” West said. “We’re putting lots of Division I, Division II, Division III club players out there now. That wasn’t the case 20 years ago. You were lucky if you had one or two.”
High School 9:12 announced the formation Tuesday of the Rivalry on the River, a three-day tournament with 10 boys teams and six girls teams across Northeast Florida, scheduled for March 25-27 at Episcopal.
The three-day tournament will be action streamed online through WJXT and broadcast over radio through 1010XL.
“Having that kind of competition prior to playoffs is something to get them prepared, get them mentally where they need to be,” Episcopal girls lacrosse coach Krista Grabher said.
To date, two Jacksonville-area teams have won Florida High School Athletic Association championships in the sport. Bartram Trail’s girls team won in 2016, while Ponte Vedra’s boys won in 2019. The Sharks’ boys were also heavy favorites to repeat as state champion before the coronavirus pandemic halted the 2020 spring campaign.
For Nease midfielder Colin Long, the event represents a chance to bring lacrosse into a brighter spotlight.
“It really just means that we’re growing the sport more and more as we go on,” he said. “We’re getting a lot of people that maybe don’t know about the sport, getting them a little more information on it as they get to watch it a little bit and enjoy it as much as we do.”
RIVALRY ON THE RIVER SCHEDULE
March 25: Creekside vs. Bolles (girls), 6 p.m.; Nease vs. St. Augustine (boys), 8 p.m.
March 26: Menendez vs. Bolles (boys), 6 p.m.; Bartram Trail vs. Fleming Island (boys), 8 p.m.
March 27: Bartram Trail vs. Ponte Vedra (girls), 1 p.m.; St. Augustine vs. Episcopal (girls), 2:30 p.m.; Providence vs. Episcopal (boys), 5 p.m.; Creekside vs. Ponte Vedra (boys), 7:30 p.m.
Broncos, Knights left in dark
As Middleburg softball coach Ashley Houston puts it, Broncos starter Mallory Forrester was pitching “lights out.”
“Lights out, literally,” Houston said.
A light failure during the ninth inning, with the scores knotted at 1-1 between Clay County powers Oakleaf and Middleburg, forced a premature ending to a matchup that had lived up to expectations.
Oakleaf’s Trinidi Murrell, who had doubled earlier in the game, was at the plate with an 0-1 count and one out when players, coaches and fans alike plunged into darkness in Middleburg.
School officials suspected a blown fuse caused the outage.
Broncos pitcher Mallory Forrester had already recorded 16 strikeouts at the time of the stoppage. She had struck out 17 the previous night against Gainesville.
“What’s crazy is her rise ball wasn’t working as well as against Gainesville, and she still had 16 strikeouts,” Houston said. “She was having an amazing game.”
The schools plan to resume the game at the point where it was suspended, at a date to be determined.
Double blasts for Trinity’s McMillian
Bash two home runs in a game, and it’s a pretty special night at the softball field.
Morgan McMillian went one step further on Thursday.
The Trinity Christian senior belted two homers in the second inning — a leadoff shot to left and a two-run home run to center — as the Conquerors won 15-0 against St. Johns Country Day. The game was shortened to four innings.
Breezy Burnett and MacKenzie Marell also homered for Trinity, which won the state title in 2019. The Conquerors might have defended that crown in 2020 if not for the coronavirus pandemic and, at 3-0, they’re off to a superb start in 2021.
As a bonus, on the same night as McMillian’s double blast, Trinity achieved no-hitters in baseball and softball. Carolyn Lasater picked up the win in softball, while Ethan Wilford struck out 14 batters as the Conquerors beat Fletcher 6-0.
Super start for Senators’ Moorer
Time to break out a Johnny Vander Meer reference for Fletcher baseball.
Senators’ left-handed pitcher Gabe Moorer has now opened the season with consecutive no-hitters, a feat that entered baseball history at the major league level with Vander Meer’s achievement with the Cincinnati Reds in 1938.
Moorer opened the season with an abbreviated five-inning no-hitter as Fletcher beat Paxon 13-0 on Feb. 20. Then, on Friday, he didn’t allow a hit while going the distance against Ponte Vedra.
The latter game was a rarity, a no-hit loss: Ponte Vedra scored two runs on a combination of walks, an RBI groundout and a passed ball, while Sharks starter Scott Griesemer struck out 12 in the Sharks’ 2-1 win.
Weekly trivia challenge
It’s time for the latest edition of the First Coast Varsity Weekly trivia section, a look back through the history of high school sports all around the area.
Today’s topic: Corky Rogers. Last week marked one year since Florida’s all-time leader in football coaching passed away after more than four decades on the sidelines at Lee and Bolles. Answers will appear in next week’s First Coast Varsity Weekly.
1. Before beginning his coaching career, Rogers spent portions of the 1966 and 1967 preseason with the Baltimore Colts. Besides Baltimore head coach Don Shula, how many future Pro Football Hall of Fame members were on the Colts’ roster at the time?
2. Who was Rogers’ first playoff opponent as a head coach?
3. When Rogers set Florida’s career high school football victories record, whose mark did he surpass?
Answers to last week’s questions
1. Lee’s Foster Castleman was the first big leaguer from a Jacksonville high school. Castleman was promoted to the New York Giants in August 1954, on the way to their National League pennant and World Series title.
2. Former Bishop Kenny pitcher Jonathan Papelbon saved 368 games, ninth in Major League Baseball history, and earned All-Star recognition six times during his 12-year Major League Baseball career with the Red Sox, Phillies and Nationals.
3. Former Raines outfielder Vince Coleman stole 752 bases, including 110 during his Rookie of the Year campaign in 1985, during his 13-season MLB career.
Around the area
Nease named former College of Staten Island athletic director Charles Gomes as its new athletic director on Monday. He replaces Matt McCool, who is moving to the Menendez job. … Former Oakleaf infielder Kaylee Lambrecht homered Saturday for her first hit with N.C. State softball. … Former Providence catcher Nathan Hickey blasted the first grand slam Saturday at Florida’s new baseball stadium. Hickey had already hit the Gators’ first homer at the new venue. … St. Augustine’s Dequan Stanley set a school record in the boys high jump, clearing 6 feet, 5.5 inches at the East Coast Classic in Palm Coast. … Joseph Mercado cleared 12 feet, 1.5 inches at the East Coast Classic to set a new Fleming Island record in the boys pole vault. … The FHSAA is scheduled to hold a special remote meeting Monday to discuss its approach to reclassification for the 2021-22 school year. … Monday marked the start of the FHSAA flag football season. … The Florida Athletic Coaches Association has planned its All-Star Classic for girls soccer on March 12-13, for boys soccer on March 13-14 and for basketball on March 19-20.