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Canterbury’s junior class glided down the Suwanee River in their canoes to the rhythmic paddle of oars in synch.
The students have been on this picturesque trip the past three days as part of a spring break trip Canterbury holds for each class in high school.
But for the seven juniors on the softball team, spring break isn’t exactly a break.
Crusaders coach Jody Moore chaperoned the trip and wanted to make sure her players stayed in shape. So she had the juniors bring their gloves and bats. After canoeing and setting up camp each day, the players found a spot in the woods to conduct practice.
The other players did not get out of practicing. Moore made sure they met on Monday and Tuesday before the spring break trips with their respective classes. And while on those trips, Moore had someone keep tabs on whether they were playing catch in their spare time.
Today, they’ll return just in time to face host Palm Harbor University in the first round of the Lady ’Canes Spring Tournament at Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater.
“Spring break is a make-or-break time for so many teams,” Moore said. “Teams take time off and come back rusty. And there’s always that end-of-school anxiousness to battle.
“The girls have been good about making this sacrifice. It’s something that has helped us stay on top.”
Canterbury (10-4), which recently moved up to No. 1 in the Class A state softball poll, has made the state tournament each of the past three seasons, including a championship game appearance in 2009.
Those results are a big reason the players don’t mind putting in the extra time.
“Practicing during these trips has helped us through the most important part of our season,” Crusaders junior Emily Winesett said. “We don’t want to lose any of the work we’ve put in so far.”
There have been some pitfalls trying to practice in the Suwanee River State Park. Two days ago, the players were retrieving softballs when they discovered poison ivy.
“We had to dodge some of that,” Winesett said. “But that’s okay. We’re fine.”
The juniors will get home this afternoon with a few hours to prepare for their 9 p.m. game.
“Hopefully we’ll still be able to swing the bats after canoeing all week,” Moore said.
Lady ’Canes Spring Tournament at Eddie C. Moore Complex
Friday: Countryside vs. Gulf, 6; Osceola vs. Plant, 6; East Lake vs. Robinson, 6; Tarpon Springs vs. East Bay, 6; Seminole vs. Chamberlain, 8; Armwood vs. Boca Ciega, 8; Bloomingdale vs. River Ridge, 8; Palm Harbor U. vs. Canterbury, 9
Saturday: Quarterfinals, 10 a.m.; semifinals, 2; final, 6