River Ridge softball coach Ernie Beck gets win No. 300

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Mon. April 12, 2010 | Izzy Gould | Email

Ernie Beck knew he was within reach of the milestone, but wondered if it was attainable this season.

After Friday's 10-0 win against Ridgewood, Beck picked up career win No. 300. He had all of his players and assistants sign a softball to commemorate the achievement. His mother was visiting, so they went to Beef O'Brady's to celebrate. His daughter brought him a celebratory cake.

Beck, 62, began teaching in the Pasco County school district in 1993 and is a physical education teacher at River Ridge Middle.

Since 1996, he has been the softball coach at River Ridge and routinely guided his teams to success.

"It's a big deal, but it's not about me," Beck said. "The kids are the ones who earned it."

River Ridge graduated seven key players from last season's team. But the Royal Knights have been dazzling so far this season, matching a program-best 20-1 start after Friday's win.

"I thought it would be tough," Beck said. "I really thought it would be tough especially in this district. ...You go into the season knowing what you have. ...The pitching has been tremendous and we've produced. They're playing well."

Beck said he is enrolled in the Deferred Retirement Option Program with four years remaining. The program in recent years has marked the end of several long-time coaching tenures. Asked how much longer he might coach, Beck said he had considered stepping away before he is forced to retire.

"I've toyed with the last couple of years teaching and not coaching," Beck said. "As long as I enjoy it and have the parent support I have there's not any sense in me (retiring)."

igould@tampabay.com

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