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FWB Vikings Softball Team advances to regional quarterfinals after historic District Championship win

The Fort Walton Beach Vikings Softball team is set to compete in the Regional Quarterfinals against Fleming Island on Wednesday, May 8, at 6 p.m. at home, following their historic […]

Source: DJ Hearne Photography

The Fort Walton Beach Vikings Softball team is set to compete in the Regional Quarterfinals against Fleming Island on Wednesday, May 8, at 6 p.m. at home, following their historic district championship win against Gulf Breeze High School on Thursday, May 2. 

  • Head Coach Taryn Gray reflects on the team’s journey this season, their current 17-10 record, and the growth of her young squad.

“The beginning of the season was a lot of trying to find our identity and who we are,” Coach Gray said. “We’ve known that there are talented players on our team, but learning how to work and mesh it together as one was important.”

The Vikings’ lineup boasts a variety of skilled hitters and defensive players, with standout performances from Alyx Hall, who leads the team in RBIs, and Hannah Isham, who has the second-highest batting average. Ava Smith and Aubrey Davis have also been significant contributors, carrying high numbers in RBIs as well.

  • On defense, Anna Abernathy has been a key player, while Rilyn Douglas has delivered clutch hits, including a game-changing hit against Gulf Breeze. Allie Smith has been a reliable presence in left field, and pitcher Ava Smith has shown growth in her maturity and poise on the mound.
Source: DJ Hearne Photography

The Vikings’ roster is relatively young, with only two seniors, Ava Smith and Ally Johnson. Coach Gray believes the team’s success speaks to their competitive nature and team-first mentality. “I have a bunch of kids that want to fight for each other instead of themselves,” she said.

As the team prepares for their Regional Quarterfinal matchup against Fleming Island, Coach Gray’s message to her players is simple: “Stay the course. Keep everything simple. We’re going to play our game and as long as we take care of what we need to, good things will happen.”

Source: DJ Hearne Photography

The Vikings’ second-place ranking in the 5A district is a significant achievement, and Coach Gray acknowledges the importance of hosting the first round of the playoffs on their home field.

  •  “Winning our first district championship, we knew we had a chance for the second seed. It’s huge to be able to host on your own field,” she said.

Coach Gray also expressed her gratitude for her assistant coaches, Nick Gardner, Katie Quinn, Corey Church, and Brent Abernathy, for their hard work and investment in the team.

As the Fort Walton Beach community rallies behind the Vikings, Coach Gray’s message is clear: “Come out and cheer us on, make it special for these athletes and let’s see how far the Vikings can take this area.”

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