TAMPA — It's back to business as usual for Bob Diez.
It has only been a few days since one of the biggest accomplishments of his 22-year Chamberlain High softball coaching career — reaching 500 wins.
But there he was at practice last week, imploring the left side of his infield to get down, stretch, reach and complete the play as he batted ball after ball at his third baseman and shortstop.
That very attention to detail is what has helped Diez amass that win total. The longtime Chamberlain coach earned victory No. 500 in a 2-0 win at Wiregrass Ranch. He celebrated with a cake shared with his players and family, and briefly reflected on the accomplishment before getting back to work.
"It's been 22 years," said Diez, 65. "A lot of people contributed to this. My name is on top but without all of the players over the years, the coaches, the parents and my (school) administration, this wouldn't have happened."
Diez's program has produced two state titles (2007 and 2012), seven state final fours, countless college softball players and plenty of sister acts.
"We've had so many sets of sisters here — two, sometimes even three, in one family," Diez said. "That's important to me that families thought I treated their kids fair and sent their daughters to our program."
He said his current group of Chiefs (winners of five of their first six games and nationally ranked) is a talented, but still learning, group.
"I didn't want that (pursuit of 500) to put any pressure on these girls," he said. "Now it's done. It's been fun, it's been a great run and it still is, but now we can just play."
State basketball final four
Wharton's boys basketball team came up short in its pursuit of a state title. The Wildcats started well and finished strong, but a cold middle stretch doomed them in a 46-38 loss to South Miami in the Class 8A state semifinals.
Wharton, which finished its season 25-5, suffered through a 14-for-42 shooting effort in the game. The Wildcats used an 18-6 rally at the end of the game to get close, but couldn't pull off the comeback.
Jaken Grier led Wharton with 13 points, followed by Sir Patrick Reynolds with eight.
Senior Soccer Challenge
Several players from North of Tampa boys and girls soccer teams have been named to the Hillsborough County All-Star teams that will square off today against their counterparts from Pinellas.
The boys and girls matches will begin at 6 p.m. at Countryside High.
Area players on the girls team include Steinbrenner's Alexis Bredeau (F), Marley Opila (MF) and Stephanie Hirsch (GK); Wharton's Leah Chisolm (MF), Ashni Deschenes (F) and Samantha Lawrence (D); Freedom's Ali Diioia (MF) and Alonso's Lauren Mullen (D/MF). The girls team will be coached by Wharton coach Denis Vukorep.
Meanwhile, North of Tampa-area players named to the boys team are Steinbrenner's Enrique Barboto (MF), Jason Collister (F) and Logan Siben (MF); Gaither's Tyler Helm (MF) and Justin Santos (F); Sickles' Thiago Silveira (MF) and Mauricio Delgado (MF); Leto's Luis Amaya (MF), Cambridge Christian's Luke Castellucci (MF/F), Wharton's Keenan Kushner (GK) and Freedom's Jeff Wright (F/MF). Gaither coach Eric Sims will lead the team.
Boys soccer honor
Steinbrenner soccer player Jason Collister has been named the Class 4A Florida Dairy Farmers' Player of the Year.
A senior forward, Collister set a single-season school record with 28 goals while leading the Warriors to district and regional championships. Steinbrenner finished the season as 4A state runnersup.
Collister is now eligible for the state's overall Mr. Soccer award.