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)

Youth Sports

Cardinals continue legacy for West Hernando Little League

SPRING HILL — Warming up during the regular season as the only Senior Division team for West Hernando Little League, the pressure had just begun for the Cardinals.

West Hernando had captured back-to-back crowns and three of the past four district titles in the Senior Division. Because of this growing legacy, the Cardinals were being counted to represent the league strongly in the District 15 Top Team Tournament in Beverly Hills.

"There was some pressure because of all the flags and banners hanging up around the field," manager Tom Masson said. "We're a young team, too, so there is some pressure associated with that."

Masson and the Cardinals knew they had to be motivated to continue this local streak. The Cardinals, although young and somewhat inexperienced, had no shortage of talent.

Greg Rittenberry, one of three 16-year-olds on the roster, was a member of the West Hernando Astros, the Senior Division District 15 Top Team Champions in 2008. Joey Asquith, a new addition to the club, was the offensive star of the tournament and was a member of the Spring Hill Dixie All-Star club that won the state crown last season. Angel Biel, the team's cleanup hitter, led the district in home runs.

The team, made up of 15- and 16-year-olds, went undefeated in the tournament. The bracket included the five leagues with Senior Division representatives in District 15. However, no game matched the dominance the Cardinals showed in the opening round against Greater Hudson. West Hernando topped Greater Hudson 14-0 behind Rittenberry's performance on the mound.

The Nature Coast sophomore tossed a perfect game, never throwing more than two balls to any one batter. Rittenberry needed just 57 pitches for the six-inning victory, and most of the performance took place in a close game. West Hernando led only 1-0 until a 13-run fifth inning.

"(Hudson) had a well-rounded team," Rittenberry said, "but that was one of the best games I've ever pitched."

Rittenberry, the staff ace, also had 14 strikeouts and it was the second time in the past two seasons he no-hit an opponent. While pitching for the Sharks as a freshman, he no-hit Lecanto in a high school game.

In the quarterfinals, the Cardinals strolled to another easy win in the double-elimination format, topping Inverness 18-2. The win advanced West Hernando to the semifinals against another undefeated and familiar foe, Shady Hills.

"I knew we were one of the better teams in the district when we beat Shady Hills during the regular season at their field," Masson said. "We won that game in extra innings, 13-12."

While Shady Hills would be the toughest club West Hernando faced during the tournament, it never slowed the Cardinals. In the semifinal, the local club outlasted its opponent 11-8, and in the championship final, the Cardinals downed Shady Hills 6-2.

Since the Cards are the lone Senior Division squad for West Hernando, almost the entire roster will now move on to the upcoming District 15 All-Star Tournament. That team will also be coached by Masson.

"After the performance we just had, we know that most of these other teams will see us as the favorites for All-Stars," Masson said. "They'll be gunning for us."

Submit feedback, story ideas to


Senior Cardinals

• Part of the West Hernando Little League

• District 15 Senior Champions

Cardinals Lineup: Joey Asquith, SS; Michael Kodetski, C; Greg Rittenberry, P; Angel Biel, 2B; Tommy Masson, 3B; Taylor Minter, OF; Justin Cotto, OF; Jared Arnold, OF; Dustin Bauer, 1B; Jon McGough, OF; Charlie McCue, OF; Nick Hagland, OF; Chris Peterson, 3B; Chance Armstrong, C; John Caban, C-OF; Lance Linahan, P. Coaches: Tom Masson (manager), Tom Arnold, Richie Kodetski, Seton McNulty (special instructor).


Cardinals continue legacy for West Hernando Little League 06/04/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 4, 2009 6:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. HomeTeam 100: Players 21-30


    TAMPA - Jesuit linebacker Anthony Nelson will help lead the Tigers into the 2017 season. Taken 5-17-17 by Scott Purks
  2. For starters: Cobb on the hill against Orioles



    Alex Cobb takes the mound, hoping to duplicate his performance from Friday when he was three outs away from pitching a complete game.
  3. Bucs DE Jacquies Smith (ACL) will start on active PUP list


    In the first quarter of a season opening win at Altanta last season, Jacquies Smith suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while attemping to cover a punt.

    Jacquies Smith will begin training camp on the active Physically Unable to Perform list.
  4. Odorizzi on disabled list with lower back strain


    Odorizzi (6-4, 4.47) has been victimized this season by the long ball, allowing 23 home runs in his 18 starts. He will miss starts in homer-friendly Yankee Stadium and against the homer-happy Astros in Houston next week.

    Jake Odorizzi was placed on the 10-day disabled list this morning.
  5. Bucs rookies Beckwith, McNichols cleared for training camp


    The Bucs took a calculated risk on two injured players that were discounted in the NFL draft and it may pay off.

    LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwiith (51) fell to the third round after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a game against Florida Nov. 19.