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Oxbridge Academy softball team off to best start

Oxbridge Academy’s fourth season of varsity softball competition has been its finest — by far.

With four wins at the Jupiter High School Tournament March 17-18, the ThunderWolves improved to 14-2 this season and cemented their status as the team to beat in District 6-4A.

“We’re committed,” said coach Kevin Drake, who took over at Oxbridge last season and guided the ThunderWolves to a 13-7-1 finish. “The girls are working hard, and they’re having a good time. They like being together, and they like to practice.”

Their hard work has paid off this season.

The ThunderWolves, who returned all but one player from last season and added four talented freshmen, are ranked No. 4 in the most recent Miracle Sports Class 4A state softball poll, and No. 5 in this week’s Post Top 10.

Oxbridge has won all five of its district games — including a 2-0 shutout of perennial power and 2016 regional finalist American Heritage on March 14 — and is averaging more than 11 runs per game.

Pitching also has been a strength for the ThunderWolves.

With senior Lianna Mullins (9-1, 1.32 ERA) and freshman Caradad Estes (4-1, 2.62 ERA) leading the way, Oxbridge has shut out six opponents, while holding five others to two runs or less.

Mullins, who has 83 strikeouts on the mound and also is batting .531 with three homers and 23 RBIs, recently became the first Oxbridge softball player to commit to a college. She’ll play at Purdue next season.

“She’s been doing it for four years,” Drake said of Mullins.

The senior has had plenty of help at the plate and on defense.

Estes is batting .471 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs, while fellow freshman Josie Foreman is batting .448 with four homers and 26 RBIs. Senior second baseman Lucky Gilman (.440, 18 RBIs) and freshman third baseman/outfielder Nashani Gilbert (.400) also are having strong seasons at the plate.

Drake hopes to maintain that offensive output through the remainder of the regular season and during the playoffs.

A district championship is well within reach for the streaking ThunderWolves, who play American Heritage for a second time April 11.

“Our goal this year is winning a district title, which American Heritage has won the last seven of nine,” Drake said. “We’re working on that. We just want to be competitive every day, every game.”

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