By NewsLine Staff
The Mandarin Middle School (MMS) softball team recently made a run for a second city championship in three years. Anastasia Suhetskis, Sophia Davis and Montana Hunt were all in sixth grade the first time that MMS won in 2016. Now returning to the championship rounds in their eighth grade year, they worked hard to ensure that MMS was well represented.
The MMS Lady Hawks had an undefeated season and clinched the Southern Division title going into the semi-finals. After several rain delays, the semi-final game versus James Weldon Johnson was held at MMS. The Lady Hawks were able to pull off an upset by defeating James Weldon Johnson 10 – 9 after six innings, thus qualifying for the City of Jacksonville’s Middle School City Championship game.
Going into the city finals on Wednesday, May 23, MMS faced an extremely tough opponent — Fletcher, whose team came up short two seasons ago in the finals. Since last year’s final game was never played due to weather, they were seeking this championship to cap off their year.
Tied 1 – 1 through the third inning, MMS picked up steam and began to build momentum with a 4 – 1 lead in the fourth. Fletcher wasn’t having it. They held on and started a rally of their own, scoring six runs that made the game look like it was over. Going into the last inning down by six, MMS stepped up their hitting game and scored an impressive four runs, including a two-run, out of the park home run by Baileigh Shoemaker. Unfortunately, the Lady Hawks fell short in the last inning, losing 10 – 8.
“These girls are the perfect definition of ‘determination, dedication and an attitude of never give up’ until the very end of their season,” said proud parent Tammy Suhetskis. “They have represented their team and their school with the utmost respect and dignity and a huge congratulations is due them.”
The talent on the team and the discipline they bring to the field is testament to the coaching staff, Coach Jon Kern and Assistant Coach Lori Bishop. Not only does Coach Kern have great knowledge of the game, but he also has taught the team to take pride in their field by grooming it every night after practice and/or games to ensure it is ready for the next day. A big believer in sportsmanship, Coach Kern has an opening introduction at every home game where he recognizes every starting player specifically as well as all teammates on both home and visiting teams. Suhetskis said he also makes sure the National Anthem is played at every home game — expressing pride for our country and teaching patriotism to the girls.
Anastasia Suhetskis and Sophia Davis were chosen for DCPS Middle School Athletic All Conference Honors for Mandarin Middle School. They were recognized for their hard work and dedication to their MMS team, as well as schoolwork.
Photo courtesy Tammy Suhetskis
The Mandarin Middle School Lady Hawks