Six players from the Gainesville area get off to a hot start

Although the Gainesville area has had to deal with its fair share of rain lately, most high school baseball teams in the area have had enough games under their belt to identify who’s who and what’s what.

And one thing is certain: there is no shortage of baseball talent in this area.

Here are some names to watch as the season continues.

The results are in: Gainesville’s Colton Kelly wins Athlete of the Week Feb. 21-25

Title city:Bradford High School celebrated a pair of state championships in weightlifting, basketball

Softball Stars:Just weeks into the season, here are the best Gainesville softball teams to watch

Tyler Bass, Jr., Chiefland

Chiefland junior ace Tyler Bass has dealt this season. The Indians left-hander saw 21.2 innings of action on the mound and allowed just 17 hits and eight runs, only five of which were earned.

Bass has walked just five batters this season, while returning 27 batters in their dugout with strikeouts — holding opposing batters to a .215 mere batting average.

William Collins, second year, Buchholz

When you’re leading the team at bat and batting average, that’s usually a good sign. That’s exactly the case for Buchholz sophomore William Collins, who is averaging .522 in his first 27 at-bats this season.

Collins had 12 hits on the year, good for three RBIs and a pair of doubles. On the field, Collins also had 10 strikeouts, helping the Bobcats start 6-1.

Drew Dawson, senior, PK Yonge

PK Yonge senior Drew Dawson is a man who plays among the boys.

The senior Blue Wave is second in the state in batting average with a .750 for 20 at bat. Dawson has fielded 15 hits this season, including three for extra bases.

While the Elder is dangerous from the batter’s box, he’s just as dangerous when pitching towards him. In PK Yonge’s first six games, Dawson worked the mound for 13.2 innings and battled his way to a 1.02 ERA while allowing just eight hits and totaling 19 outs in the stick.

Hayden Gustavson, junior, Colombia

The Columbia Tigers have had a strong start to the season with a 7-1 record and junior Hayden Gustavson has undoubtedly played a huge role in their success.

Gustavson maintained an impressive .435 batting average through 23 at-bats, where he had 10 hits, including three doubles, a triple and a home run – all good for 10 RBIs. The junior also spent time on the rubber, where he pitched for six innings and allowed just three hits and no runs, while collecting 10 strikeouts.

Colton Kelly, Jr., Gainesville

Few have had a warmer spring start than Gainesville junior Colton Kelly.

In the Hurricanes’ first pair of games, Kelly sent two hits out of the park. Although he hasn’t hit a home run since, Kelly has remained consistent from the plate. With a .482 batting average over 29 at-bats, Kelly had 14 hits — five of which were doubles and two were his homers.

Kelly’s contributions don’t stop there. When he’s not playing shortstop for Gainesville, he’s pitching. In 11.1 innings of work, Kelly allowed eight hits, five runs (3 earned) and had 23 strikeouts, holding opposing batters to a low .178 batting average.

Ethan Szlachetka, second year, Oak Hall

Thanks to a handful of rains, Oak Hall’s schedule has taken a hit. However, in the three games the Eagles have been able to play, second Ethan Szlachetka has risen to the occasion.

In three games, Szlachetka has batted .833 after having five hits on six at bats. Those five swings were good for a pair of RBIs and three extra bases as he hit a double and a triple.

In his brief appearances on the mound, Szlachetka allowed just two hits and a run in 3.1 innings of work, while striking out six batters.

To note: All records and stats are from matches up to March 16

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