They are far from the bright lights. They are unknown faces and unfamiliar names. No camera crews rush to report their every move, record their every thought. Still, these players toil away. Some have overcome injuries. Others have filled in for those injured. They all strive as hard as the superstars, dreaming of the moment they can take their place at the top. These are the unsung heroes from some of the top baseball teams playing in district tournaments this week.
Admission: $5 per session
At stake: The top two teams advance to next week's region quarterfinals.
Class 6A, District 7 at various sites
Schedule: Tuesday — Countryside (6) at North Port (3), 7 p.m.; Palm Harbor U. (5) at Sarasota Riverview (4), 7. Wednesday — Countryside/North Port winner at St. Petersburg (2), 4; PHU/Sarasota Riverview winner at Sarasota (1), 7. Friday — Final (highest seed hosts), 7.
Unsung hero: Green Devils pitcher Dylan Benedict got the start in some big district games, including a win against Countryside and a shutout against North Port that clinched the No. 2 seed.
Class 5A, District 12 at Northeast
Schedule: Tuesday — Gibbs (5) vs. Largo (4), 7. Wednesday — Boca Ciega (3) vs. Pinellas Park (2), 5; Gibbs/Largo winner vs. Northeast (1), 8. Friday — Final, 7.
Unsung heroes: The Vikings' Shawn Delmontagne has battled through ankle injuries and a pulled hamstring to stabilize the team's catching situation and help them to clinch the top seed in the district. He is tied for the team lead in RBIs (24) and is second in home runs (three).
Cody Arnold has emerged as a big hitter for the No. 2 seed Patriots and is in the top five in the county in hitting with a .452 average.
Class 5A, District 11 at Jack Russell Stadium, Clearwater
Schedule: Tuesday — Tarpon Springs (5) vs, East Lake (4), 7. Wednesday — Clearwater (3) vs. Seminole (2), 5; Tarpon Springs/East Lake winner vs. Dunedin (1), 8. Friday — Final, 7.
Unsung hero: After the Falcons' Andrew Broadbeck went down with an injury midway through the season, Mike Tipton was moved to the leadoff spot. He responded with a .388 average for the top-seeded Falcons.
The Warhawks' Gabe Martello has been a steady influence at catcher for a deep staff and his clutch hits were big in helping his team grab the No. 2 seed.
Class 4A, District 10 at various sites
Schedule: Tuesday — Lakewood (5) at Palmetto (4), 7; Dixie Hollins (6) at Braden River (3), 7; Bradenton Bayshore (7) at Lakewood Ranch (2), 7. Wednesday — Dixie Hollins/Braden River winner vs. Bradenton Bayshore/Lakewood Ranch winner, 7; Lakewood/Palmetto winner at Osceola (1), 7. Friday — Final (highest seed hosts), 7.
Unsung hero: Scott Schlapinski has had a breakthrough season for the Warriors with a .429 average and a county-leading 29 RBIs.
Class 3A, District 10 at Berkeley Prep
Schedule: Monday — Berkeley Prep (4) vs. Tampa Catholic (1), 7. Tuesday — St. Petersburg Catholic (3) vs. Clearwater Central Catholic (2), 7. Thursday — Final, 7.
Unsung heroes: The Marauders' Dominic Delmonte was limited to a few innings on the mound last season because of injury but has bounced back to lead the team with five wins, including one against Tampa Catholic that clinched the No. 2 seed.
Tim McKay has been the most versatile player for the No. 3 seed Barons, playing four positions this season. His play at catcher was big when SPC lost starter Tito Santos for a few weeks due to injury.
Class 2A, District 11 at Shorecrest
Schedule: Monday — Admiral Farragut (5) vs. Sarasota Out-of-Door (4), 4. Tuesday — Northside Christian (3) vs. Bradenton St. Stephens' (2), 1; AFA/Out-of-Door winner vs. Shorecrest (1), 4. Thursday — Final, 4.
Unsung hero: The top-seeded Chargers have been hit by the injury bug, with four players missing time in the past month. That allowed outfielder Branden Burg to emerge as an everyday force. His run-scoring single against St. Stephens' was the difference in a game that decided the district's top spot.
Class 2A, District 10 at Tampa Prep
Schedule: Tuesday — Tampa Prep (2) vs. Indian Rocks Christian (3), 4; Calvary Christian (4) vs. Bishop McLaughlin (1), 7. Thursday — Final, 7.
Class 1A, District 9 at Canterbury
Schedule: Monday — Keswick Christian (5) vs. Lakeside Christian (4), 3; Academy at the Lakes (6) vs. Carrollwood Day School (3), 5; Tampa Bay Christian (7) vs. Canterbury (2), 7. Tuesday — AATL/Carrollwood winner vs. Tampa Bay Chr./Canterbury winner, 5; Keswick/Lakeside winner vs. Cambridge (1), 7. Thursday — Final, 6.