Baseball: Hillsborough district preview



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Fri. April 18, 2014 | Kelly Parsons

Baseball: Hillsborough district preview

TAMPA — The Monday night game against Tampa Catholic, which Tampa Prep lost 8-2, had been over for nearly 15 minutes. But after his team’s postgame huddle in leftfield broke, a disappointed Luis Medina lingered.

The sophomore catcher, who has a team-high .453 batting average, also had a near-flawless fielding percentage. But against the Crusaders, Medina had two throwing errors, one of which allowed a runner at third to steal home in the sixth inning.

For a guy who has helped carry the Terrapins (15-9, 8-0) to the brink of a potential postseason run — and takes pride in that team-leading role — the performance, he said, was unacceptable.

“I don’t want to let my team down,” Medina said. “Because they help me and they give me 150 percent, I want to give them the same. When I don’t produce at the rate I want, I’m very frustrated with myself.”

• • •

Even before joining his first baseball team at age 8, Medina grew up playing catch with his father David in the backyard. The elder Medina recalls his young son always having a baseball in hand, even once carrying one — and throwing it — in church.

David Medina said he first saw a glimpse of his son’s potential future in baseball when Luis was just 11, playing catcher for the Tampa Crush. But it wasn’t just his talent on the field that he brought to his teams.

“When he started travel ball, during the offseason, small teams would call us and say, ‘You know what, I need that type of leadership in my dugout,’ ” David Medina said.

Despite Medina’s young age on a team largely comprised of junior and senior starters, coach A.J. Hendrix sees the same qualities in his star catcher. It’s a position that requires a player to make pitching calls and direct the infielders for defensive coverages. For that role, senior pitcher Sam Martin said, Medina is a perfect fit.

“He’s just a very smart catcher,” Martin said. “He knows what situations to throw which pitch. The work he puts in off the field is very impressive, especially for a sophomore.”

Medina started the season on a six-game hitting streak, and he had at least a .600 batting average through the first month of the 2014 campaign. Hendrix said it was one of the best starts to a season he has ever seen.

But now, with the district tournament looming, the 14th-year coach is more concerned with finishes.

Tampa Prep seeks its third straight district title next week. Beyond that, the Terrapins have their eye on getting back to Fort Meyers, where they played in the state final four just two seasons ago.

“We have the potential,” Hendrix said. “This is one of the best team’s Tampa Prep has ever had.”

And he doesn’t have to search far and wide to find the reason.

• • •

Medina has been used to leading the Terrapins to victory. So when he didn’t against Tampa Catholic that night, Hendrix was quick to take his catcher aside and ease his mind.

“(He told me) it’s just a game,” Medina said. “Even the best players have bad moments.”

Those, he hopes, will be long out of his system the next time he takes the field. Medina, who, his father says, comes home from baseball practice just to take in more baseball, knows that much of his talent comes from the time he puts into studying and perfecting his game.

That extra effort allows him to lead the Terrapins, and in more ways than one.

“It’s just hard work,” Medina said. “I hope it pays off, as usual.”

District schedules
Class 8A-7 at Plant

Monday: No. 4 Riverview vs. No. 5 Wharton, 4; No. 3 Bloomingdale vs. No. 6 Newsome, 7
Tuesday: No. 2 Alonso vs. Bloomingdale-Newsome winner, 4; No. 1 Plant vs. Riverview-Wharton winner, 7
Thursday: Final, 7

Class 7A-8 at Sickles
Tuesday: No. 4 Gaither vs. No. 5 Freedom, 7
Wednesday: No. 2 Wiregrass Ranch vs. No. 3 Steinbrenner, 4:30; No. 1 Sickles vs. Gaither-Freedom winner, 7
Friday: Final, 7

Class 7A-7 at Durant
Tuesday: No. 4 Plant City vs. No. 5 East Bay, 4; No. 3 Strawberry Crest vs. No. 6 Tampa Bay Tech, 7
Wednesday: No. 2 Brandon vs. Strawberry Crest-TBT winner, 4; No. 1 Durant vs. Plant City-East Bay winner, 7
Friday: Final, 7

Class 6A-9 at King
Monday: No. 2 Hillsborough vs. No. 7 Lennard, 4; No. 1 King vs. No. 8 Blake, 7
Tuesday: No. 4 Chamberlain vs. No. 5 Leto, 4; No. 3 Jefferson vs. No. 6 Armwood, 7
Wednesday: Jefferson-Armwood winner vs. Hillsborough-Leto winner, 4; King-Blake winner vs.  Chamberlain-Lennard winner, 7
Thursday: Final, 7

Class 5A-9 at Jesuit
Tuesday: No. 2 Robinson vs. No. 3 Spoto, 4:30; No. 1 Jesuit vs. No. 4 Middleton, 7:30
Thursday: Final, 7

Class 4A-10 at various sites
Tuesday: No. 3 Sarasota Booker at No. 2 Tampa Catholic, 6
Thursday: TC-Booker winner at No. 1 Berkeley Prep, 7

Class 3A-7 at Bishop McLaughlin
Monday: No. 5 Brooks DeBartolo vs. No. 4 Seffner Christian, 7
Tuesday: No. 3 Carrollwood Day vs. No. 2 Bishop McLaughlin, 4; No. 1 Tampa Prep vs. BD-Seffner winner, 7
Thursday: Final, 7

Class 2A-7 at West Tampa LL
Tuesday: No. 2 Cambridge Christian vs. No. 3 Academy at the Lakes, 3:30
Thursday: Cambridge-AATL winner vs. No. 1 Bayshore Christian, 3:30

Teams in post


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