NEW PORT RICHEY — River Ridge softball coach Ernie Beck is retiring after this season, so this week's district tournament was his last.
And the way the Royal Knights played, one of his best, too.
Despite entering as the No. 3 seed, River Ridge rolled over all three opponents, including Dunedin 8-0 in Friday's Class 5A-8 championship.
The Royal Knights (25-3) did it in their usual style, with a relentless, timely offense and the marksmanship of pitcher Makenzie Goluba, who allowed two hits and struck out 13....
Brothers Zach and Austin Drury have been key to Wiregrass Ranch's success this season.
The Bulls (16-6) enter next week's district tournament as the No. 2 seed in Class 7A-8, but four teams tied for the league lead with 5-3 records.
The Drurys will play a big role in how far the Bulls can advance. They have saved each other's victories on the mound this season and provided big hits for the Bulls and first-year coach Marshall McDougall....
04/16/14 Tennis Preps
Plant's Erica Oosterhout made the most of her first opportunity to win an overall Class 4A state championship.
Oosterhout, a junior who played No. 4 singles as a freshman and No. 2 as a sophomore, defeated Newsome's Kylie Moulin 6-1, 6-1 in the overall Class 4A singles final Wednesday morning at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs.
She then teamed with Gabrielle Rodriguez to win the overall doubles championship. The duo beat Cypress Bay's Shene Disbergen and Pierina Imparato 6-0, 6-1 in the semifinals, then topped East Lake's Angel Deng and Kim Herrock 6-1, 6-4 in the final....
04/16/14 Tennis Preps
The Wiregrass Ranch boys tennis team is poised to win the school's first state championship after a near-perfect opening day at the Class 3A tournament in Altamonte Springs on Wednesday.
The Bulls sat in first place with 21 points (out of a possible 22) while second-place and four-time defending state champion Naples Barron Collier had nine. The 21 points already tied for the most in a state championship since Gainesville's 23 in 1982....
Anthony "Shug" Rhynes is charging toward the finish line, knees up and down, arms churning, cleats banging away on the rubber track — bap, bap, bap — with nothing in front of him.
It's just Rhynes and the clock.
Just like always.
Saturday morning, Rhynes took his ACT one more time, hopeful the results will qualify him for college.
He will graduate from Middleton High School this spring, which one time might have been enough....
She left St. Petersburg as one of the city's most decorated high school basketball players, an unselfish teammate with the ability to take over a game when she needed to, with a basket or an assist or a steal.
But usually a basket.
And yet, college coaches weren't banging down Jerica Coley's door. USF said it had too many guards; same for Florida. Miami didn't have room, and the St. Petersburg Catholic star's smaller frame didn't help....
NEW PORT RICHEY — River Ridge softball coach Ernie Beck likes to schedule tough games the week before districts, which is why Hernando, a team boasting a 20-1 record and 13-game win streak, rolled into town Tuesday night.
But when the lineups were exchanged, Beck noticed that ace Courtney Riddle, for the first time this season, wasn't Hernando's starting pitcher.
"Was I disappointed? Yeah, I'm not going to lie and say I wasn't," said Beck. "That's why we schedule games like this."...
TRINITY — It's no secret that when Osceola starter and top draft prospect Keith Weisenberg leaves, so do the Major League Baseball scouts.
But Buddy Dougherty, who in addition to being the No. 2 starter is pretty much the designated closer when Weisenberg pitches, doesn't take it personally.
"Yeah, I notice it," he said, "but it doesn't matter."
At first sight of Dougherty heading to the mound Wednesday night, all the radar guns were hurriedly packed up and the notebooks tucked away in back pockets. But not before scouts were treated to a home run, single and double by the Warriors third baseman, leading the way in a 3-0 victory over Mitchell in a battle of district unbeatens....
SEFFNER — Wharton's Bryanna Rivers always runs from behind. It's where she likes to be, and her ability to kick down the stretch generally makes it a winning strategy.
There are times, though, such as Wednesday night, when she wonders if she ceded too much room, surrendered too many meters to make up.
This time, almost.
With a remarkable final lap, including a determined final 100 meters, Rivers needed every bit of her big kick to catch Armwood's Lindsay Shealy and win the 1,600 meters, spurring the Wildcat girls to the National Division meet at Armwood....
WEEKI WACHEE — Miguel Martinez wasn't tired Wednesday night. But he confessed that he was a bit nervous in a seventh-inning bases-loaded showdown.
But after sneaking an inside strike past Wiregrass Ranch leadoff hitter Austin Drury, the Springstead sophomore took a little off the next offering and floated one past the swinging Bull for the final out, giving the Eagles a 3-2 win in the Pasco-Hernando Classic quarterfinals....
Sean Fluke is trying not to look back.
Instead, he looks forward.
To this week, next week, next month. How many pitches can he squeeze in, how many swings of the bat can he take, how many games can he win?
His last two seasons were lost, one to injury and the other to his own carelessness in class.
He has one season left. This one.
"I have a lot to prove,'' the Fivay High School senior said....
After watching Gibbs' Trayvon Bromell run people down and earn national acclaim, Hillsborough's Jeremiah Green reduce the triple jump to a battle for distant second, Lakewood's Griffin twins Shaquille and Shaquem jump and run to new heights, Lakewood's T.J. Holmes hurdle every obstacle effortlessly, and, of course, the Spartan boys exhilarating one-point win for a state title, it must be asked:...
The suspenders are the first thing you notice about Lennard High School boys basketball coach Danny Gaddis.
Specked with little Longhorns, they frame his burnt orange tie.
"I thought it'd be a good touch," he said.
By the second quarter of games, Gaddis' suspenders hang around his waist. He fiddles with his tie, adjusts his glasses, yells instructions.
He looks like a basketball coach, which is the point....
Back in November, Craig Bowman wasn't where the conversation about Tampa Bay's best points guards started.
But in March, he may be where it ends.
The Berkeley Prep senior will lead his Bucs (27-3) into the Lakeland Center today for a Class 4A state semifinal against Lake Highland Prep, looking to cap a breakout season with a state title.
"I think I've surprised a lot of people this year," said Bowman, the Bucs' floor general. "When I saw I wasn't ranked in the top 25 players this year, it kind of hurt me. I wanted to prove I belonged in that group."...
RUSKIN — If Saturday night's Class 6A region final between Lehigh and his Lennard team was truly like a boxing match, as coach Danny Gaddis said, then ding, ding, ding.
It's the Longhorns by TKO.
In front of a packed house in their own gymnasium, Lennard outworked and outplayed Lehigh in a decisive 74-63 win, sending the program to its first state semifinal.
After a slow start, Gaddis reminded his upstart veteran club to just do what it always does: throw lots of punches....