Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Softball

Four softball teams ready to sort things out

With a little more than two weeks left before district tournaments crank up, the top of the standings in Class 5A-9 looks a lot like most of America's NCAA hoops bracket following the barrage of weekend upsets:

A jumbled mess.

East Lake, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park and Tarpon Springs have bruised and bloodied each other to the point that no team has separated itself from the others.

Take a look at how unpredictable the regular season has been (district records in parentheses):

• Tarpon Springs (8-2) surprised early with eight straight district victories, including program-defining wins over East Lake, PHU and Pinellas Park before losing its last two to the Hurricanes and Eagles.

• PHU (6-4) has four district losses and five overall for the first time since its 1999 state championship team, which finished the year 30-6. The Hurricanes, however, are capable of beating anybody. Look at their 8-3 victory over Tarpon Springs for proof.

• Pinellas Park (8-2) has remained steady all season, collecting victories over East Lake and PHU, coupled with losses to East Lake and Tarpon Springs.

• East Lake (8-2) was on life support after opening with losses to Tarpon Springs and Pinellas Park but is currently the hottest team in the county after eight straight wins, beating PHU, Pinellas Park and Tarpon Springs in the process.

All of which begs the question: Can any team separate itself from the pack?

"Usually, it's been a two-team race. The past couple years it's turned into a three-team race," East Lake coach Mike Estes said. "This year any of four teams could win it."

With two district games remaining for each team, East Lake appears to have a leg up for the district tournament's top seed and lone first-round bye with a winnable doubleheader remaining against Largo (April 7).

Tarpon Springs and Pinellas Park play each other today. If Tarpon Springs wins, then beats Dunedin on Thursday, the Spongers would finish first, provided Pinellas Park takes care of PHU in a date-to-be-determined makeup game from a rainout. The Patriots can't place first without an unexpected East Lake loss.

But, other than playing one fewer game, are there any advantages this year to being the No. 1 seed?

"I don't think there's a big difference in how the teams stack up," PHU coach Chuck Poetter said. "No. 4 could lose to No. 1, and No. 3 could beat No. 2. It's been very competitive."

And it should make for an entertaining district tournament come April 14.

Four softball teams ready to sort things out 03/25/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 11:55am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Kevin Cash: 'We've got to turn it around. ... Time is of the essence'

    Blogs

    The question to manager Kevin Cash was about a rematch with the Mariners this weekend at the Trop, but he made clear this afternoon that with his Rays losing nine of their last 12 that they have to treat every game as essential.

    "We've got to start playing good baseball games whether we match up well against that team or not," Kevin Cash said.
  2. Lightning wing J.T. Brown on why he donated to remove Confederate statue

    Blogs

    Lightning wing J.T. Brown was back in his Minneapolis offseason home over the weekend when he saw on TV the violent protests in Charlottesville over the removal of a Confederate statue.

    J.T. Brown decided to get involved, donating $1,500 to assist in removing a Confederate statue in Tampa.
  3. Rays, Bucs and Lightning join Dungy in donating to move Confederate monument

    Bucs

    The Tampa Bay area's three major league sports teams have pledged their financial support in moving a Confederate monument out of downtown Tampa.

    Tony Dungy in 2011. [Getty]
  4. Tim Tebow came into their life, and never left

    Minors

    There are a lot of stories about Tim Tebow connecting with people during his life, Tebow inspiring them and Tebow being inspired.

    Boomer Hornbeck of Naples, Fla., has battled cerebral palsy and undergone surgery after surgery in the hopes of allowing him to one day walk. Inspired by Tim Tebow, and encouraged by his relationship with him, Hornbeck has become a motivational speaker.
  5. For starters: Rays at Jays, with Longoria moved to No. 2 spot in order

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 3:10: Cash said the change was made primarily for two reasons, to change the look for several of the hitters and to get back to alternating lefty and righty hitters to make it tougher for opposing managers to match up relievers. Cash said he plans to stick with this structure for a while but doesn't …

    Evan Longoria was moved from his usual No. 3 spot in the batting order up to second.