5A-14 Playoff Preview: Suncoast Hoping To Challenge Heritage
Suncoast and Okeechobee are both looking to get a shot at Broward No. 4 American Heritage-Plantation in the district championship, but they’ll have to go through each other first to get there.
Both teams still have hopes for an at-large regional bid and a bit of history with one another helps make the matchup even more dramatic.
Let’s take a look at each team’s prospects.
5A-14 District Playoff Schedule
Location: South Fork
Quarterfinals – Monday (5/1)
No. 4 South Fork vs. No. 5 Coconut Creek @ 6:00 p.m.
Semifinals – Tuesday (5/2)
No. 1 American Heritage vs. Winner (South Fork-Coconut Creek) @ 7:00 p.m.
No. 2 Suncoast vs. No. 3 Okeechobee @ 4:00 p.m.
Finals – Thursday (5/4)
Winner (Semifinal 1) vs. Winner (Suncoast-Okeechobee) @ 7:00 p.m.
American Heritage-Plantation – Team Page
The Patriots have only lost their district twice since 2006 and are once again positioned to make a deep postseason run.
The trio of Talan Holiday (1.64 ERA, 45 K, 38.1 IP), Spencer Krasner (3.13 ERA, 38 K, 22.1 IP) and Kyle Rostock (0.79 ERA, 29 K, 26.2 IP) have carried Heritage on the mound this season. Antonio Turco-Rivas (2.36 ERA) is another talented arm on the roster with 36 strikeouts over 26.2 innings, mostly in relief. Mateo Serna is a major source of offense with five home runs and 30 RBIs. Jordan Rich leads the team with a .431 batting average, and Spencer Butt is one of the best all-around shortstops in the state.
It would be shocking to see the Patriots fall in the district tournament. It’s simply not something the program is used to. Look for this club to threaten Archbishop McCarthy in the regional tournament.
Coconut Creek – Team Page
The Cougars are at the bottom of the division heading into the playoffs, but first-year manager Terry Johnson has the program at five wins for the first time since 2015.
Shamarri Fredericks has led the team on the mound and Jeffrey Simeon and Jamari Wright are tied for the most hits.
South Fork is fairly strong for a No. 4 seed, so the Cougars might have to wait another year before seeing a playoff win.
Okeechobee – Team Page
The Brahmans have won a district championship in each of the past two seasons, but Heritage and Suncoast are ahead of them entering the postseason. Avenging a 1-0 regular season loss to Suncoast in the semifinals is crucial if the Brahmans want a shot at making it to regionals.
Ethan Blomfield and Enoch Busbin have hit well for the team, and Jayce Markham has been a key bat with runners in scoring position. Braison Crews, Gavin Kindell and Bryce Ward are the innings eaters on the mound for the team.
Okeechobee is no stranger to playing spoiler and has more than enough talent to beat Suncoast in a rematch of last year’s 5A-12 final to advance to the district championship.
South Fork – Team Page
The Bulldogs have looked good recently, winning five of the last six games of the regular season, but there might be too much talent at the top of this district for the Bulldogs to stand a fighting chance. Getting past Coconut Creek in the quarterfinal should be doable, but South Fork runs into a buzz saw in round two with Heritage.
John Roberts leads the team with 31 hits, which is no easy feat, and he’s the workhorse of the team with 41 punchouts through 33.1 innings pitched. Grant Jones and Conner Wiggins are a couple of sub-2.00 ERA guys with 31 strikeouts apiece that the team can turn to for pitching depth.
If South Fork can get past Coconut Creek without using up too much of its pitching staff, there’s a chance to compete with Heritage.
Suncoast – Team Page
The Chargers have just two seniors on the roster this year, but you wouldn’t know that by looking at their 19-6 record.
Suncoast has four 30-hit guys, which is absurd for any team playing any schedule. Brady King leads the group with 35 and Lee Ellis has the top batting average at .468 through 62 at-bats. Nate Stafford has three home runs, and King is just behind him with two. Brady Benevides is the team ace with 38 strikeouts and a 3.10 ERA under his belt through 40.2 innings. King is also a major contributor on the mound with 42 strikeouts in 34 innings.
A 1-0 regular season win over Okeechobee is a good omen heading into a rematch in the district semifinal, but the margin for error is slim there and means that Suncoast could spend most of its energy getting to Heritage instead of beating them. Still, a regional berth seems all but certain with a win over Okeechobee, making the stakes that much higher.