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Bob Putnam, Times Staff Writer

Bob Putnam

Bob Putnam has covered high school sports for the Tampa Bay Times as a staff writer since 1996. He is a fourth-generation Floridian who graduated from Dixie Hollins High School and wrote for the student newspapers at St. Petersburg College and USF. He has covered the high school careers of football stars Riley Cooper (CCC/Florida/Philadelphia Eagles), Dante Fowler (Lakewood/Florida/Jacksonville Jaguars), Leonard Johnson (Largo/Iowa State/Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and Dexter McCluster (Largo, Mississippi/Tennessee Titans), among others.

Phone: (727) 580-4395


  1. HomeTeam Hot Shots: Nominations for March 10-24


    Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate male and female Hot Shot athletes from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. These nominations span Saturday, March 10 through Friday, March 24 (extra time allowed for spring break). Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monday.

    Female nominees

    Rebecca Catarelli, softball, Osceola: The sophomore was adept at hitting the long ball this week. She had a homer against Northeast and a grand slam against Seminole, both wins. Catarelli now has four homers on the season....

  2. Softball: New Countryside ace shuts out Bloomingdale


    CLEARWATER — Countryside is not the same team that advanced to the Class 8A state championship game last year. For starters, the Cougars lost six starters (five graduated, one moved).

    There were new faces everywhere, including on the mound. Jordan Lewis, a junior, took over the role as the team's ace, replacing Stella Preston, last year's Tampa Bay Times Pinellas County pitcher of the year who is now at Mercer University....

  3. McDonald's All-American Game: Putting Kevin Knox's selection into a Tampa perspective


    In 1987, David White was summoned to Boca Ciega High's gymnasium for a photo. The basketball standout for the Pirates put on a T-shirt and stood in front of a white background.

    Curious, White asked his coach what the photos were all about.

    "Coach just said, 'Oh, you were selected for the McDonald's All-American Game,' " White recalled.

    A coveted recruit, White already had received plenty of accolades. So his selection to the McDonald's game did not carry much significance considering there was little fanfare surrounding it....

    Tampa Catholic senior forward Kevin Knox soars to the basket just as the 6-foot-9 five-star recruit has towered over local high school basketball, becoming one of five bay area players ever invited to the McDonald’s All-American Game.
  4. Pinellas-Hillsborough all-star basketball games set for Friday


    The Hillsborough-Pinellas boys and girls all-star games will be held Friday at Eckerd College. The girls game starts at 6 p.m., followed by the boys. Admission is $5. The teams were selected based on their previous performance in county all-star games.

    Here are the rosters for both games.



    Bloomingdale: Drew Bethoney; Hillsborough: Bryce Moragne; Jesuit: Stevie Darst; Newsome: Nick Stuck; Plant City: Tarik McKelphin; Sickles: Bryce Beamer; Seffner Christian: Reid Walker, Derek Webster; Tampa Prep: Amari Goulbourne; Wharton: Dae’son Barnes....

  5. Spring Classic draws a competitive lineup


    Palm Harbor University has cruised through the high school softball season, winning 11 of its first 12 games entering the week. The hardest thing for Hurricanes coach Kerry Katchuk has been divvying up playing time for a roster that includes 12-13 players who are good enough to be full-time starters.

    The pitching staff is deep, too. Four girls have made at least one appearance.

    Most weeks, Katchuk has to juggle the lineup in hopes of getting as many players into the game as possible....

    “The tournament is big for us because we get to play a different variety of teams and harder competition to see how we will compare to them,” says Chamberlain pitcher Gabby Vallee.
  6. HomeTeam 25: Softball rankings


    1. Chamberlain (8-0)

    This week: Thursday at King; Friday-Saturday at PHU's Lady 'Canes Invitational

    Scoop: The Chiefs are one of two remaining undefeated teams in the area and recently moved up to the top spot in the Class 7A state poll. To stay unbeaten, Chamberlain will have to get through a tough field at Palm Harbor University's tournament.

    2. Academy at the Lakes (9-0)...

    Alexis Kilfoyl of Academy at the Lakes is 8-0 with 0.35 ERA and 75 strikeouts on the season. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times
  7. Florida Dairy Farmers name Kevin Knox Mr. Basketball


    Tampa Catholic forward Kevin Knox, one of the premier players in the nation, was named the Florida Dairy Farmers' Mr. Basketball on Saturday, an award given to the state’s top player regardless of classification.

    Knox, a 6-foot-8 forward, is just the third player from the area to win the award and the first since Tampa Prep’s Casey Sanders in 1999. Next week, Knox will be honored by the Florida Dairy Farmers during an assembly in the school’s gymnasium....

    A standout senior year, that ended in a trip to the Class 5A title game, was enough to give Kevin Knox the edge for the state's best player.
  8. Softball: Land O'Lakes' Callie Turner tosses no-hitter vs. River Ridge


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Inning by inning, Land O'Lakes ace Callie Turner kept getting opposing batters to whiff.

    The sophomore, who has already committed to Tennessee, showed off an uncanny ability to read River Ridge hitters and decipher their intentions. She also had the control to execute the pitches she wanted.

    Turner used her extensive repertoire of pitches, throwing them at different speeds to any spot she wanted — inside corner, outside corner, up, down....

  9. Tampa Catholic's Knox, Anclote's Cooper named state players of the year


    Tampa Catholic’s Kevin Knox (5A) and Anclote’s Marquez Cooper (6A) were each named the state players of the year in their respective classifications by the Florida Dairy Farmers.

    Sickles’ Renaldo Garcia also was named the Class 8A coach of the year.

    All three are finalists for overall player and coach of the year award.

    Knox, the lone player from the area selected for the McDonald’s All-America Game, averaged 28.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game this season while leading the Crusaders to the state championship game. In the state semifinals, the 6-foot-8 senior forward tied a season high with 40 points and matched a career high with 20 rebounds....

    The accolades keep coming for Tampa Catholic senior Kevin Knox, who was named the Class 5A Player of the Year.
  10. Calvary Christian softball ahead of schedule, amps up competitive factor



    Sarah Coleman was accustomed to being a part of softball programs that made the playoffs at the high school and college levels.

    She played for Palm Harbor University 2006-09 and went to the playoffs three times. Coleman then went to Barry, which advanced to regional play three times during her career.

    Playoff appearances have become more elusive for Coleman as a head coach. That is due in large part to being placed in challenging districts. When she took over at Dunedin in 2014, the program was in a seven-team district that included North Suncoast powers River Ridge and Land O'Lakes. The Falcons never got past the district semifinals in her two seasons as coach....

    Senior catcher Amy Smith is a strong leader for  Calvary Christian, and is hitting .462 with 14 RBIs.
  11. Jay Davis extends family's coaching legacy in Pinellas County


    Jay Davis grew up in the Clearwater Central Catholic football program.

    He was on the sideline when his father, John, was first hired as head coach at the school in 1994. Davis was on the field as the starting quarterback from 1997-2000, leading the Marauders to playoff appearances all four years.

    After years as an assistant in college, Davis is returning to the area as a head football coach....

    Jay Davis, the new head football coach at St. Petersburg Catholic, had several stops in college as an assistant coach, including Truman State (Mo.). (Courtesy of St. Petersburg Catholic)
  12. HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Alex Sexton and Maddie Neuhaus


    Alex Sexton, Dunedin

    A four-year starter for the Falcons, Sexton's role on this year's team was evident in a 4-3 win over Countryside on Thursday. As the starting shortstop, he made several key defensive plays. At the plate, he went 2-for-3 as the leadoff hitter. And on the mound he recorded his first save of the season by getting a strikeout for the final out.

    He will be Dunedin's versatile jack-of-all trades in his senior year....

    Dunedin baseball player Alex Sexton
  13. HomeTeam 25: Softball rankings


    1. Chamberlain (8-0)

    This week: Idle

    Scoop: The Chiefs keep getting better. In their last five games, they outscored opponents by a combined 61-1. Last week, Chamberlain beat Gaither 10-0 to take over sole possession of first place in Class 7A, District 8. Gabby Vallee threw a no-hitter and had 13 strikeouts against the Cowboys.

    2. Steinbrenner (8-0)...

    Steinbrenner's Nichole McClendon rejoices after scoring the first run in the Warriors' 2-0 victory over Plant in Wednesday's Class 8A, District 5 final game. Taken 4-13-16 by Scott Purks
  14. HomeTeam Hot Shots: Nominations for March 4-10


    Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate male and female Hot Shot athletes from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. These nominations span Saturday, March 4-10. Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monday.

    Female nominees

    Ashley Autuori, softball, Mitchell: The junior went 3-for-4, including a three-run homer, in a 11-7 win over Osceola that moved the Mustangs into sole possession of first place in Class 7A, District 10....

  15. More tributes coming for Sickles' championship basketball team


    The buzzer sounded, ending the game and a drought. Within seconds, the bench emptied as players and coaches stormed the Lakeland Center court, all united in a group hug.

    Sickles High's boys basketball team won something that had eluded Hillsborough County public school programs for 35 years: a state title.

    The Gryphons did it by beating Tallahassee Lincoln 51-45 in the Class 8A state championship game....

    Sickles High guard Rashid Braimah (24) hugs Tahj Lalanne (2) while the team celebrates after the second half of the Class 8A boys basketball state championship game against Tallahassee Lincoln at the Lakeland Center on March 4. Sickles defeated Lincoln 51-45 to become Hillsborough County’s first public high school state champ in 35 years.