For most of the AAU baseball season, the Gulf Coast Mustangs 11-under team was just trying to get better. The team started its season slowly, losing games due to shaky pitching and defense. By midseason, the Mustangs were just trying to get to .500.
But as the season wore on, the Mustangs got better and better. They started to hit, pitch and play defense. The culmination came May 29-30 at the AAU state championship tournament in Winter Haven. The Mustangs rolled to five straight wins by the 10-run rule and faced Sarasota in the final, their fourth game of the day. They hung on for an 8-7 win to earn the state championship.
"We'd never won any tournament before this,'' manager Frank Uzdavines said. "We were struggling in the beginning, but our guys never hung their heads or gave up. They really brought their A game to the state tournament.''
The Mustangs are comprised of players from Clearwater, Largo, Safety Harbor and St. Petersburg. This was their second season together. They have qualified for the national AAU tournament in Orlando next month, but Uzdavines said the parents have not decided if the team will enter the tournament.
Players on the team are Tyler Cottle, Austin Tobias, Luca Tresh, Jeff Swett, Oakley Albinson, A.J. Rivera, Kevin Ries, Clayton Slater, Cai Baralt and Kaleb Karnes.
Uzdavines said the team that won the state championship looks nothing like the team he started out with.
"In our first five games (of the state tournament) we didn't make any errors,'' he said. "We only had one error in the championship game. It all came together.''
The latest Largo Golf Course biweekly 18-hole scramble was held Saturday, June 5. The scramble, which is open to the public, had a total of six teams (24 players). The team of Mario Columbi (Seminole), Bill Keim (Largo), Ken Ulrich (Clearwater Beach) and David Ciofani (Pinellas Park) won the event with a score of 49 (13 under par).
• The County Golf Association held its weekly tournament on June 7 at St. Petersburg Country Club. The regular division net winners were Ron Mudra and Brent Shaw, who shot 63. The senior division gross winners were Mitch Bentley and Robert Kempton, who shot 71.
• A few local golfers attempted to qualify for next week's U.S. Open. Matt Cornuet of Tarpon Springs shot an opening-round 85 at Hobe Sound before withdrawing. Andy Goodwin of Safety Harbor shot a 73-76–149 in Roswell, Ga., but failed to qualify. Jonathan Mansfield of Clearwater shot 75-72–147 in Springfield, Ohio, but failed to qualify. Peter Kolosvary of Safety Harbor shot 78-81–159 and also failed to qualify.
Ricky Symanski of Clearwater won the boys 18 Academia Sanchez-Casal Summer Super Series, held at the Naples Tennis Club & Resort. Symanski defeated top seed Parker Cuevas Woodall 2-6, 6-4, 12-10.
• The St. Petersburg Tennis Center held a Local Junior Open on June 5-7. The boys 16 singles winner was Jake Gabay, the 14 singles winner was Gavin Ka Wai Kwok, the 12 winner was Beau Langford and the 10 winner was Christopher Reilly. The girls 18 singles winner was Lauren Burich, the 14 winner was Rachel Rohrabacher, the 12 singles champ was Anastasha Worlds and the 10 winner was Rosie Dickson.
• The Vinoy Country Club women's team recently won the satellite women's league, which is a group of teams from private clubs throughout Pinellas County. Members of the team are Shaheen Hemsey, Heather O'Neill, Betsy Cureton, Tracey Williams, Celia McCormack, Eva Herdegen, Virginia Ward, Catherine Cobb, Lorrie Heyman, Sidney Smith, Wendy Wallace, Patty Gaukel, Lana Fisher, Fai McDougald, Amy Forney and Jayma Main.
The Azalea U13 Eagles boys team participated in the Disney Memorial Day Shootout May 29-31 in Kissimmee. The team won twice in the tournament, including a 5-0 shutout of Boynton Beach, before falling in the semifinals. The team was coached by John Tischner and Aref Jallouli. The players were Casey Nyhart, Sal Ponzo, Bryan Combs, Trenton Sweigart, Tristan Garriga, Chris Lovesky, Aeden Bauduin, Elliott Sailes, Andrius Vilkialis, Evan Yates, Thomas Whiting, Peter Afentakis, Rayane Jallouli and John Tischner.
Del Bowyer of Largo and Ruth Fellmeth of New York, membersers of the Freedom Spirit of Florida 70-plus senior women's softball team were officially elected into the National Senior Softball Hall of Fame on May 10. Bowyer and Fellmeth have been instrumental in the Freedom Spirit's success. The team plays in national tournaments and has won four gold medals, three silvers and a bronze in recent competition. Bowyer is also a 16-year member of the Clearwater men's three score softball club. Fellmeth spends winters in Largo and is also an accomplished senior tennis player. Both players will be officially inducted in September in Tennessee. They will join teammate Ethel Lehmann, who was inducted in 2008.