With the conclusion of the state wrestling tournament last weekend, winter sports ended for Osceola County schools last week and now the spring sports season is in full gear. One relatively new sport is lacrosse, which is currently only played at the high school level by Celebration and Tohopekaliga – but several others, including St. Cloud, are considering adding the sport.
Celebration was the first school to adopt the sport, adding it to their roster in 2014. Tohopekaliga began playing lacrosse in their second year of operation.
Storm girls coach Laura Jones hopes others will join in the near future.
“We are excited to see Toho’s program developing. We are hopeful to have 2-3 more teams in the county within the next couple of years,” Jones said. “Having more high schools adopt lacrosse programs will help the sport grow at the middle school level for recreational teams. Orange and Seminole Counties have dominated rec and club lacrosse in Central Florida for years. Watching high school programs in Polk begin to develop and building lacrosse in Osceola will help to spread the sport across Central Florida at all age levels.”
Here is this week’s look at county high school sports:
The Toho boys stand at 6-2 on the season but lost their rival match to Celebration (2-4) last week by a 15-7 score. A pair of seniors, Lonnie Flores Jr. and Quetin Palasak, lead the Tigers in scoring with 26 and 23 goals respectively through eight games. Senior Zach Zelmanski (9 goals) top all Storm scorers.
Celebration’s girls’ team blasted Tohopekaliga, 26-1, last week to move to 4-2 on the season; while the Tigers are now 4-4. Led by freshman Abigael Lochter’s seven goals, 15 different players scored for the Storm in that big win. Celebration is led in scoring by a trio of underclassmen in Lochter (15 goals), Erin Beah-Balbontin (Jr., 14 goals) and Ayla Moffitt (Fr., 15 goals). Two sophomores have led the Tigers in scoring as Lauren Schira has 28 goals and Melina Swaisgood has 19.
In what could be a decisive sport as Celebration tries to claim their first Orange Belt Conference overall team championship, the Storm boys team (5-2, 3-0) and girls’ team (6-3, 4-0) have remained undefeated in conference play. Santiago Lopez is 4-1 overall in the number one singles position for the Storm; sophomore Lilly Gibbs has been handling the number one spot on the girls’ side.
With wins over St. Cloud and Olympia last week, Osceola pushed its record to 4-1. They have two big home games this week, hosting 4-2 Lakeland on Tuesday and playing rival Harmony on Thursday. Pitching has been a big key to the early success, as the Kowboys have a team ERA of 1.31 and have been allowing just 2.4 hits per game. Blake Birchler was hitting .500 on the season (7 for 14) and while senior Chris Palmi has only three hits, all three went for extra bases and he had a team-leading seven RBI.
Playing a tough early-season schedule where four of its first five opponents have a combined 14-5 record, Harmony was off to a 1-4 start. Sophomore Cade Walter was leading the Longhorns with a .600 batting average (9 for 14); while Caden Scarborough has a 1.40 ERA in two appearances.
Celebration was 2-3 through five games; Aiden Fernandez was the Storm’s leading hitter with a .429 average (6 for 14); while Osyeiberth Quntero was 1-1 with an impressive 0.72 ERA. Tohopekaliga took a 3-1 record into this week’s play. Justin Diaz (.600, 6 for 10) and Javarius Magee (.500, 5 for 10) led the Tigers in hitting; Moises Hernandez has two complete games, a 2-0 record, and a 1.00 ERA in his two starts.
Liberty was 3-2 on the season with sophomore Ed Diaz hitting .750 (9 for 12) and also dominating on the mound with a 0.00 ERA with 16 strikeouts in six innings of work. Both Poinciana (0-3) and St. Cloud (1-3) were off to slow starts.
The Flag Football season gets underway this week with Harmony again being among the favorites in the Orange Belt Conference, which will be determined by a round-robin competition.
Six of the eight public high schools in Osceola were at .500 or above through two weeks of the 2022 season. Harmony was 3-1; while St. Cloud, Celebration, and Liberty were 2-1. Leading hitters in the county were St. Cloud’s Hannah Nasco (.500, 4 for 8) and Kiley Holland (.500, 4 for 8). Nayeli Hernandez was hitting .714 for Osceola (2-2), collecting 10 hits in her first 14 at-bats. Celebration (2-1) had Kaley Pagan hitting .750 with eight RBI and Carolina McAulay was at .600 with five RBI. Jehna Morales was hitting a robust .875 for Liberty (2-1).