After creating special memories together during their childhood on the diamond, a group of teammates have continued their strong bond on and off the field and have enjoyed success with the Park Vista Community High School varsity baseball team.
Javi Soto, Matt Lashley, Jason Lashley, Ethan Strikowski, Ayden Gurevich and Ryan Brown grew up playing on the same team in the West Boynton travel baseball program for several years. After helping lead the Park Vista junior varsity baseball team last season, the six players reached the varsity level. They have made contributions throughout the season and recently enjoyed another memorable experience after winning the district championship during April.
“We have been close friends and we have played for a long time together,” Strikowski said. “We won a lot of games and tournaments during travel ball and we have great chemistry on the field. It’s really exciting and a lot of fun to play together at Park Vista. It’s really cool to win districts.”
Strikowski is a starting first baseman and has pitched in relief during his junior season. Twin brothers Matt and Jason Lashley are both sophomore infielders while Soto and Brown are both sophomore outfielders. Gurevich is a sophomore catcher and also plays first base.
Strikowski has pitched effectively out of the bullpen for the Cobras. He picked up the win on the mound and recorded a walk-off single to lift Park Vista to a victory against Wellington earlier this season.
Matt Lashley, who grew up playing shortstop, has made the transition in the infield as the starting third baseman this season. He is among the team leaders in batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored and stolen bases while hitting second in the order.
Second baseman Jason Lashley has stepped up in the designated hitter role while Soto has continued to improve and emerged as a starting centerfielder. Gurevich and Brown both have contributed as well throughout the season.
The six players made an impact on the field during their time with the West Boynton travel baseball program. They played at a high level in the South Florida Travel Baseball League and won several tournaments throughout the state. They had the opportunity to participate in the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame Invitational Tournament in Cooperstown, New York and finished among the top 10 teams. They also won a national tournament in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
“We are great friends and we have an amazing bond,” Matt Lashley said. “The atmosphere was great at Myrtle Beach and it was really exciting how we won that tournament.”
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The Lashley brothers were joined by Strikowski, Soto and Gurevich on the West Boynton Little League 12U All-Star team, which won the Florida state championship in 2017. Strikowski and Matt Lashley both hit two home runs apiece while Soto pitched three scoreless innings during the state title victory. Nik Cesarz and Tristan Rucker, who both play at Park Vista, were also important contributors on the team.
The West Boynton Little League 12U All-Stars also earned a victory against West Virginia during the United States Southeast Regional Tournament in Warner Robins, Georgia before falling short of advancing to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. In the regional victory, Soto and Jason Lashley combined for nine strikeouts on the mound while Strikowski and Gurevich both drove in two runs at the plate.
“We will never forget that summer and the experience of winning the state championship and playing in regionals,” Strikowski said.
The Lashley brothers, who both participated in the West Boynton Flag Football League and for the Woodlands Middle School volleyball team, are now following in the footsteps of their older brothers. Ryan Lashley was a standout at Park Vista who led the Cobras to the state tournament before playing shortstop for Stetson University. Second baseman Brett Lashley also made a run toward states during his time at Park Vista before he went on to play for Palm Beach State College and Florida Atlantic University.
“We grew up watching our brothers play at Park Vista,” Matt Lashley said. “It’s cool that we are now playing at the school and receiving their support. It was definitely amazing to win districts. We hope to have more highlights as we continue our baseball journey.”
Park Vista, under the direction of coach Larry Greenstein, defeated Santaluces 8-3 to win the District 11-7A championship on April 28. The Cobras have enjoyed success despite playing without senior pitcher Cameron Clines, who has been sidelined for the entire season. The pitching staff has stepped up and been led by ace Jameson Fisher as well as Andrew Richiez, Colin Cassell, Maison Martinez and Chris Antle. They have several impact players offensively, including Austin Fawley, Peyton Samuels, Skyler Schulz, Jacob Hurley and Tristan Barenburg. Park Vista has also received contributions from Chad Rucker, Tristan Rucker, Nik Cesarz, Erick Tavares, Israel Tavares, Michael Sawczak, Ethan Mattison and Carson Bartlett.