Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Armwood High's baseball team heads into 5A region final

Armwood High’s Josh Spano leads the Hawks with a .462 batting average and six homers. Tonight the Hawks travel to Lake Wales.

ATOYIA DEANS | Times (2009)

Armwood High’s Josh Spano leads the Hawks with a .462 batting average and six homers. Tonight the Hawks travel to Lake Wales.

SEFFNER — The Armwood Hawks were sluggish. The coaches knew it. The players knew it. The parents and fans knew it.

The Hawks weren't playing bad baseball, but they weren't lighting Hillsborough County up like they expected coming into the season. Armwood had just wrapped up the Saladino Tournament during spring break with another uninspired loss, this time to Riverview. That defeat left the Hawks at 12-9, barely above the pedestrian .500 mark.

"We thought we were going to come out here in the beginning of the year and just start running teams," outfielder/pitcher Tyler Alexander said. "And really we were just going through the motions and not taking teams seriously."

So at the first practice after the Saladino Tournament, Jodi Fameree, whose sons Jackson and Jordan play for the Hawks, had a talk with the team. He spoke about accountability and putting the team over individuals. He said the parents could see the lackadaisical attitudes the Hawks were lumbering around the field with and how it wasn't a good representation of the kind of talent Armwood possessed.

"I think it opened up a lot of people's eyes to hear it from a parent from the outside rather than a teammate or coach from the inside," Alexander said. "I think that started to turn things around."

Armwood hasn't lost since.

The Hawks look to return to the state final four as they travel to meet nationally-ranked Lake Wales tonight at 7 in the 5A region final.

"From the beginning to the middle to the end (of the season)," Armwood coach Mike Wrenn said. "It's been a roller coaster."

Indeed it has. Armwood started strong, winning its first four games. The Hawks followed that up by dropping four-of-the-next- five, including a pair of district contests. They then went 6-3 heading into the Saladino before losing two-of-three at the tournament.

"It was frustrating," Alexander said.

Wrenn had a hard time putting his finger on the Hawks' troubles. The only constant was their inconsistency.

"The talent was there," he said. "But for whatever reason, they weren't jelling as a team."

But after the post-Saladino practice, things started coming together. Zack Powers and Alexander became even more vocal leaders. Team members replaced listless play by hard-nosed aggression. And the seniors realized that without a change in direction the season — and some of their careers — would soon be over.

"They started wanting the pressure that comes with a "lose and you're done' attitude," Wrenn said. "I think that helped the seniors step up and make this team a more cohesive unit."

Tonight, the Hawks will see exactly how far they've come against a talented Lake Wales (26-4) team ranked 10th in the nation by and 48th in ESPN's Fab 50. Armwood's stacked lineup features three players batting better than .400, including Josh Spano's team-high .462. Spano also paces the team with six homers, followed by three each from Jackson Fameree, Alexander and Powers.

"We definitely are a good hitting team," Wrenn said. "But we've won games on pitching and defense, too."

Like last Friday. Powers, who signed to play at Florida next year, tossed a three-hit shutout against Plant City in the region semis. Powers (6-1, 1.46 ERA, 67 strikeouts in 48 innings) will get the start tonight, but Spano (5-3, 1.91 ERA) and Alexander (three saves and 43 Ks in 25 innings) will both be available and ready if needed.

"The season didn't start out how we'd thought it'd be," Alexander said. "But physically we're just as good as last year and ready for (tonight)."

Brandon Wright can be reached at

Armwood High's baseball team heads into 5A region final 05/13/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 4:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa lawyer Fred Ridley to be new chairman of Augusta National, Masters' home (w/ video)


    AUGUSTA, Ga. — Fred Ridley first came to Augusta National to compete in the 1976 Masters as the U.S. Amateur champion, and he played the opening round in the traditional pairing with the defending champion, Jack Nicklaus.

  2. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, activate Alex Cobb


    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  3. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    The Austin Pruitt experiment might be over, or at least put on pause. After allowing six runs over seven innings to Seattle on Friday, the rookie didn't get through the fourth Wednesday, giving up five runs on four homers. His ERA for past six starts: 5.29.

  5. Six home runs doom Rays in loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A curve that didn't bounce was the difference Wednesday as the Rays lost 7-6 to the Blue Jays in front of 8,264, the smallest Tropicana field crowd since Sept. 5, 2006.

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (11) greets center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) at the plate after his two run home run in the third inning of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.