Clearwater Central Catholic could have not envisioned a worse start to the baseball season. The Marauders committed costly errors. They were unable to come up with timely hits. And they could not hold on to a lead.
It all contributed to loss after loss. CCC began the season 2-7.
Then there was the U-turn.
The Marauders became airtight on defense. They got the right hits at the right times. And they held on to leads.
That all contributed to win after win. CCC reeled off six straight victories heading into last week's Dunedin Spring Invitational. The streak continued as the Marauders won four more to capture the tournament title for the first time since 2008.
Spring tournaments come at a crucial time, usually a few weeks before the start of districts. A strong performance can give a team a much-needed boost before a possible postseason run.
And no team helped itself more than CCC.
The Marauders started the tournament locked in a tight game against Pinellas Park. The game went 14 innings before it was suspended because it ran late. After inclement weather caused two days of postponements, the Marauders broke a 2-2 tie by scoring seven runs in the 15th to win 9-2.
After routing St. Petersburg 11-0, the Marauders faced district rival Tampa Catholic in the semifinals of the tournament. CCC fell behind 2-0 before scoring a run each in the third, fourth and fifth innings to win 3-2.
In the final, the Marauders again rallied, scoring three runs in the sixth to win 7-6 over Countryside. Jeff Campbell drew a bases-loaded walk to bring in the tying run. The winning came on an error.
CCC, which has won 10 straight, hosts Tampa Catholic tonight in a game that could decide the top seed in Class 3A, District 10. Last year, the Marauders won the district title by beating Tampa Catholic in the final.
But CCC was not the only team that got some momentum from winning a spring tournament. Here are some others.
SEMINOLE: Early in the season, the Warhawks had trouble winning close games. All three losses have come by one run. But in the past two weeks, Seminole has reversed that trend. The Warhawks beat Dunedin 1-0 in a regular-season game. And last week, Seminole rallied in the seventh inning to beat IMG Pendleton 2-1 in the final of the Warhawks' Steve Georgiadis Tournament. Pitching has always been there for Seminole. Now the hitting is coming around, too. Scott Withrow had six hits in the tournament and Brett Phillips had a triple in the championship game that led to him scoring the winning run off a passed ball.
OSCEOLA: The Warriors had a bit of a letdown three weeks ago with consecutive losses to Dunedin and Seminole. Since then, Osceola has got back to winning. Last week, the Warriors beat Lakewood 16-7 in the final of the Northeast Tournament.