The Steinbrenner softball team has always been successful.
In fact, the Warriors haven’t had a losing season in the program’s 13-year existence.
“I knew I was taking over a good program,” said first-year coach Jason Gordon, who replaced longtime coach Brenda Leach. “But these girls have stepped up and made this season fun. We talked about how happy we are for the season, but know we still have to take it one game at a time.”
As of May 3, prior to the Class 7A-7 district tournament, Steinbrenner is 19-4 and ranked 18th in the state. The Warriors entered that tournament as the top seed and hope to take another district title, putting them in the regional tournament, which begins May 11. Once there, Steinbrenner hopes to avenge last season’s first-round departure in the regional quarterfinals when it lost to eventual Class 7A state champ, Lakewood Ranch (Bradenton).
Gordon figures this might be the toughest region in the state. The Mustangs (ranked No. 1 in the state and 7A) are state champs, while Venice (eighth in 7A) and Newsome (fourth in 7A and defeated the Warriors 6-2 on April 12) are looming.
“We’re hoping to get shots at those teams in the tournament,” Gordon said.
Steinbrenner entered this season with lofty goals, especially after it returned all but three players from the 2021 season.
Leading the way on offense has been sophomore Lilian Holtje, who is batting .373 with team highs in doubles (eight), homers (three) and RBI (25). Senior Madi Frey has a team-high .459 batting average with six doubles, a team-high four triples, and 20 RBI on 28 hits and a team-high 10 steals, while fellow senior Emily Chiarella has a team-high 31 hits, 22 runs scored and 10 steals.
On the pitching side, sophomore pitcher Saige Sampson is 11-3 with a 1.88 ERA and a team-high 43 strikeouts, while junior Haven Leggett is 8-1 with a team-best 1.49 ERA and 40 strikeouts.
“I think our pitching and defense has been top-notch this year,” Gordon said.
Regional tournaments for both high school baseball and softball start May 11, and results for both can be found at MaxPreps.com.