Class 6A State Semifinal Primer

Who: #4 Winter Springs (19-9-1) v #1 Sickles (28-2)
When/Where: Tuesday, May 23, 1 pm;
Hammond Stadium, 14400 Six Mile Cypress Parkway Fort Myers, Florida 33912
Admission: $9 per day if purchased in advance via GoFan, and $12 if purchased day-of
Parking: $10 for cars/$50 for busses (cash and credit cards accepted)

How they got here

Winter Springs’ offense exploded in the region tournament as the Bears scored 34 runs combined in wins against Pace, Tallahassee Leon and Gainesville Buchholz. Winter Spring went 8-1-1 down the stretch claiming district and region titles. The Bears make a first-ever trip to the state semifinals in search of a title.

Sickles has won 20-straight since dropping the Saladino Tournament final to Class 5A state semifinalist Jesuit, as the Gryphons have outscored opponents 206-58 on the year. The Gryphons biggest post-season test came from Lennard in the region semifinal, where sophomore Jordan Yost gave his team a 2-1 walk-off win with an RBI single. Sickles returns to the final four for the second-straight year (falling in extra innings in the semifinals last year to eventual state champions Doral Academy), in search of the program’s first state title in its 26 years.

Gryphons Players to Watch

Cameron Guise, RHP/3B

The junior has played a huge role for the Gryphons at the plate, on the mound and playing third base. Guise has hit for a .375 average, with 17 runs, 18 RBI with 10 doubles and a pair of home runs. On the mound he is 4-0 with a 1.43 ERA in 29 innings, none bigger than the four scoreless innings of relief in Sickles walk-off region semifinal win against Lennard.

Caden McDonald, RHP/1B

Though not posting the unbelievable .600 batting average the now-senior did a season ago, McDonald has been a terror in all phases of the game this year. The UCF-signed righty is 11-1 on the mound this year, with a 0.96 ERA and 91 strikeouts – pitching at least five innings in 10-of-13 starts. Two of those shorter starts were games controlled by Sickles and the third he took a line drive off the face and was sent to the hospital – only to return to the mound 10 days later to fire four-shutout innings. At the plate he’s hitting .364 with a county-best 11 homers, 32 RBI, 22 runs scored, 17 walks and six doubles.

Connor Vance, LF

A first-team All-813Preps selection as a junior, Vance has been equally impressive this year, batting .333, scoring 28 times and driving in 12 runs. A patient hitter with just eight strikeouts all season, while walking 18 teams – Vance is one tough out at the top of the Gryphons lineup. How tough? Vance has reached base safely in all but two of Sickles 30 games this season.

Hayden Yost, CF

The Gryphons hit (37) and runs leader (36), the Florida-signed Yost has scored 94 times in his high school career. This season, batting second and playing centerfield, he has driven in 18 runs, adding some pop with three homers, five doubles and 18 RBI, while stealing 12 bases. Yost was 3-for-4, with a game-deciding home run in the first inning against Gaither in the region final.

Bears Players to Watch

Marco Gonzalez, 3B: The Bears junior is hitting .337, with 32 runs and 14 RBI, including driving in three in Winter Springs’ 10-8 region final win against Buchholz.

Logan Hughes, 1B: The Stetson committed senior first baseman leads the Bears with 35 RBI and is hitting .350 on the year, scoring 30 times, with seven home runs.

Jacob McKenzie, C: The senior Florida International signee doubled and homered in the region final and has 22 RBI.