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Mike White out as East Lake baseball coach after this year

East Lake baseball coach Mike White said via e-mail Thursday that school administrators told him he would not return next season.

White said there were a few reasons for the move, the biggest being parental and player complaints. He did not cite examples.

A former pitcher at Countryside, White replaced Rob Francis in 2008.

White led East Lake to a runnerup finish in the district last season. This year, the Eagles are 12-4 with the four losses coming by a combined six runs.

Last week, East Lake was on the verge of beating rival Dunedin in the championship game of the Dunedin Spring Invitational. But the Eagles let a 7-0 lead slip away as the Falcons scored eight runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

White, an ESE/math teacher at Clearwater Fundamental Middle School, will continue to coach East Lake for the rest of the season.

TITLE GAME REMATCH TONIGHT: There is nothing anyone can say to make East Lake feel better about the Dunedin Spring Invitational championship game.

It's no use noting the Eagles were dominant in two previous games and outplayed the host Falcons for most of the final.

East Lake collapsed in the bottom of the seventh inning, allowing a seven-run lead to evaporate in an 8-7 loss.

The winning run scored on a bases-loaded walk.

It was agonizing for the players, who were on the brink of beating one of their biggest rivals for the first time in their high school careers.

The painful memory of a title that got away will serve as a powerful motivator tonight when East Lakes travels to Dunedin for a rematch.

The game will have little bearing on conference or district standings.

The Falcons have already clinched a spot as the North representative in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship game. They also have all but wrapped up the No. 1 seed in Class 5A, District 11 considering they are undefeated in district games and every other team has at least two losses.

But all that matters to East Lake is getting a win against its nemesis.

That might be tough to do considering the Falcons are back to full strength.

Dunedin shortstop Casey Turgeon, the Times 2009 all-county player of the year, turned his ankle against Clearwater Central Catholic in the semifinals of the Dunedin Spring Invitational.

He was in the lineup as a hitter against the Eagles in the championship game but did not play in the field.

Turgeon has since returned to a full-time role, Falcons coach Tom Hilbert said.

BACHE IS BACK: East Lake's softball team welcomed the return of ace Alyssa Bache, who, prior to this week, sat out the Eagles' past five games.

Bache experienced discomfort in a forearm tendon on her pitching arm and didn't play in the Eagles' championship run through the Palm Harbor University Spring Tournament two weekends ago.

Monday, she was back in the Eagles lineup. She started against Boca Ciega and pitched two innings, striking out five batters.

She started and threw two more innings a day later in a victory over Tarpon Springs.

East Lake coach Mike Estes said he's hopeful Bache will be able to throw a full seven innings by the time the district tournament starts in two weeks.

"We're trying to be cautious," he said. "I don't want the injury to come back and cause a problem."

Mike White out as East Lake baseball coach after this year 04/09/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 9, 2010 12:54am]

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