Ridgeview Panthers softball team makes deep playoff run with lockdown defense

Tony Salazar

With all the talented rosters among Clay County teams, the Ridgeview Panthers’ softball team made the deepest playoff run that ended in an 11-4 loss to the Delton Wolves in the FHSAA 5A Region 1 Softball Championship.

The Panthers under head coach Angela Agurkis finished the season with a 19-7 record with a 9-2 record at home, a 7-5 record on the road and 3-0 record in neutral site games. Ridgeview finished 2023 as the 70th-best team in Florida, the 11th-best team in 5A and the seventh-best softball team in Jacksonville.

The Panthers had a solid offense that scored 155 runs with a lockdown defense that allowed only 98 runs in 26 games played.

Ridgeview had five players who had a batting average over .300 for the 2023 season. Those players were Haylee McCrea (.523), Mary Girgis (.438), Kyiera Torrence (.365), Kaitlyn Watts (.386) and Hannah Crosby (.316). Watts also had the teams’ lone two home runs for the 2023 season.

One of the most impressive stories across Clay County softball was the emergence of the freshman pitcher Saige Bialek. Bialek pitched in 25 out of 26 games and had a 5-1 record with a 1.94 ERA. In 140.2 innings pitched, Bialek had 92 strikeouts of the 596 batters she faced while allowing 57 runs and 39 earned runs. Bialek has jumped out to a hot start and will have three more years to lead the team back to a playoff run with her pitching.

The Panthers will lose multiple starters next season to graduation in Girgis, Watts, and Cynthia Hilton. However, Ridgeview has a young core of starters returning that will put the Panthers right back in prime position to make another deep run into the playoffs. Those players include Bialek, McCrea, Torrence, Crosby, and Nichole Deschamps.

Photo byAlex Haney Unsplash

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I am a graduate of the University of North Florida with a major in communication with a focus in journalism and a minor in sports management.

Green Cove Springs, FL

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