If we were giving comeback-of-the-year honors, Miriam Schmoll would be the hands-down winner.
The former freshman phenom, selected Bradenton Herald Player of The Year for softball two years ago as ninth-grader, missed nearly all of last season with a torn ACL.
The Bayshore junior pitcher is back and looking as strong as ever.
In 39 innings this season, Schmoll has struck out 69 (149 batters faced) and compiled a 0.36 ERA while holding opposing batters to a 0.37 batting average.
As a freshman, the right-hander compiled a 1.21 ERA with 211 strikeouts in 132.2 innings.
The USF-bound Schmoll is a big reason the Bruins are in first place in Class 5A District 11 with a 5-0 record, and she hasn't lost her prowess with the bat. She leads Bayshore in homers with three and RBIs with 18. She ranks second with a .600 batting average.
Bayshore is also getting another year of strong production from two-time Bradenton Herald All-Area first-team selection LaShara James, another USF commit. The versatile senior leads the Bruins in batting average (.684) and runs scored (19).
Braden River and Lakewood Ranch are no longer in the same district or same classification, but the rivalry is still filled with passion, which should make for an exciting evening and big crowd next Tuesday.
Braden River (11-0) will visit the Mustangs (11-2), whose only losses are to unbeaten Lake Region by 4-0 and 1-0 scores. Ranch-Braden River is for the Hatfield-McCoy trophy. It gets the adrenalin going and is a game both teams want badly.
Braden River, coached by Melissa Dowling, arguably the best pitcher to come out of the Lakewood Ranch program, knows how to score runs.
The Pirates are averaging 13.3 runs per game with a team batting average of .467. USF-bound first baseman Bethaney Keen leads the Pirates in hitting (.719 BA) and runs scored with 23.
Sarah Crawford tops the team with four homers, ranks second with 20 RBIs and is hitting .436. Second baseman Myah Moy is hitting .558 with a team-leading 23 RBIs.
On the mound, the Pirates are led by Ali Yawn (5-0, 1.56 ERA) with 32 strikeouts in 27 innings and Lexie Phelps (6-0, 2.06 ERA).
Lakewood Ranch also has potent bats in its lineup. The Mustangs are led by shortstop Kinsey Goelz, another USF commit, who is hitting .487. She leads the team with a .615 on-base percentage and is tied with outfielder Denali Schappacher for the team lead with 18 runs scored.
Schappacher, a Palm Beach Atlantic commit, tops the Mustangs with 21 hits and 16 stolen bases. Outfielder MacKenzie Meyer, who has committed to Princeton, has a .465 batting average and leads the Mustangs with 18 RBIs.
Lakewood Ranch rides the arm of Kailey Christian. The right-hander is 7-0 and has compiled a 1.59 ERA with 52 strikeouts in 39 innings.
Southeast has been getting some solid pitching from senior Rebecca Boesen (6-3), who has recorded all Seminoles (6-4) victories. She has struck out 92 in 53 innings and has a 1.19 ERA.
Tre Clark has been invited to play for the South team in the FACA All-Star basketball game March 19 at Indian River Community College.
Venice head coach James Slaton, who will coach the South team, invited Palmetto's high-scoring guard. Clark, who has received five Division I offers, has not made a decision on college. He will be flying to Furman this weekend on an official visit, and the College of Charleston has also entered the recruiting picture.
"There is obviously going to be a lot of talent there, (at the all-star game), but I think he will do well," Slaton said."
Alan Dell, Herald sports columnist/writer, can be reached at 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter@ADellSports