TAMPA — The question, as it often is with state high school baseball semifinals, is whether to throw your ace in the semifinal or save him for a potential title game matchup.
Over the years, that question seems to get answered mostly like this: ace.
Get there. Then worry about it.
And for the five Tampa Bay teams headed to Fort Myers this week and next, it only makes sense. This is year chock full of brilliant frontline pitchers....
TAMPA — Jose Fernandez got the call last week.
Then Landy Faedo did, too.
"He called me before it was written to tell me," the Alonso High School baseball coach said. "He sounded calm, like this was just something he's been working for. Like this was just part of the plan."
This afternoon at Citi Field in Flushing, N.Y., Fernandez — one of the best pitchers in Tampa Bay high school history — will make his major-league debut with the Marlins at the age of 20, a mere 684 days after leading Alonso to a state championship....
Mixed martial arts in Tampa
What: Bellator 94
When: Tonight; doors open at 7, first bout at 8
Where: Sun Dome, Tampa
TV: Spike starting at 10 (preliminaries at spike.com)
Outlook: The 12-fight card includes the finals of the Season 8 lightweight and light heavyweight tournaments. Emanuel Newton (20-7-1) and Mihail Zayats (21-6) meet for the light heavyweight title. Dave Rickels (13-1) and Saad Awad (14-4) meet in the lightweight final with the winner getting $100,000 and a shot at champion Attila Vegh. Awad, a last-minute replacement for the injured Patricky Freire, won his first two tournament fights by knockout in a combined 74 seconds. … Trey Houston (10-1) meets Luis Melo (28-11-3) in a 185-pound bout, and Rodrigo Lima (10-1) meets Ronnie Mann (21-5-1) in a 135-pound bout. The winners could earn a spot in future tournaments. … Also fighting is Jessica Aguilar (14-4), who has won nine of her past 10 fights....
You have to start somewhere, and for Keith Thurman, that's as the WBO's NABO light middleweight champion.
Never heard of it? It doesn't matter.
On his way to bigger and better things, Winky Wright's first title was the NABF light middleweight championship.
The first pro belt Jeff Lacy put around his waist was the WBC Continental Americas super middleweight title.
And Antonio Tarver won the NABF and USBA light heavyweight straps on the same night....
ST. PETERSBURG -— Keith Thurman boarded a plane Tuesday morning.
His big moment.
Saturday in Cincinnati, the 23-year-old Clearwater boxer will fight for the first time on HBO.
Though he has already fought at the Staples Center and the MGM Grand twice, his bout against veteran Mexican fighter Orlando Lora will be his introduction to his biggest audience....
Winky Wright announced his retirement last week after losing a unanimous decision to Peter Quillin, a promising middleweight but — it's fair to say — one who would have been easy work for Wright in his prime. • Wright, 40, did it the hard way: amateur career and local cards to start his career; a stint overseas; and a determined trip down a long road that never seemed to go in the direction he believed it would. • But in the end, he won titles, earned millions and made St. Petersburg proud. • Here's a look back at the career of the bay area's greatest fighter....
The Florida High School Athletic Association is wrapping up the Armwood football case, and so are we. Here are some tidbits we're still talking about, and a few other things that kind of blow our minds:
Stripped! If Armwood's state title and 15 wins are taken away, do we care?
The players don't seem to. The coaches and fans probably don't.
They won it on the field. End of story....
Armwood High School filed its response Tuesday afternoon.
Or, if you will, its confession.
Yes, principal Michael Ippolito wrote to the Florida High School Athletic Association, my school did have five football players whose parents falsified their addresses, whose parents essentially lied and cheated to get into Armwood.
Yes, one of my school's former assistant football coaches changed his story in an apparent attempt to hinder the investigation....
A professional career that started at the Hyatt Regency in Tampa, wound its way through France, Germany and Monte Carlo, and found its brightest moments under the bright lights in Las Vegas, came to an end Saturday night in Carson City, Calif.
For St. Petersburg's most famous fighter, Winky Wright, the mind was still willing but the body was not. The 40-year-old dropped a unanimous decision to younger, stronger Peter Quillin, 28, in a middleweight bout at the Home Depot Center....
Antonio Tarver is still here. • Still fighting. • Still winning. • Hard to believe, isn't it? • Unless you consider that this is what Tarver does, what makes him special. • He gets down, then up, then down again, then back up. • When you think he has left the building, you turn around and see him standing in the doorway. • "Just when they think I'm out," he said, "I slide back in."...
TAMPA — The guys all have their rings and will wear them proudly — defiantly — today, to be sure.
Bad news arrived Monday afternoon, but the score in last year's Class 6A state football title game hasn't changed: Armwood 40, Miami Central 31.
There is no investigation, declaration, decision or announcement that can ever, in the eyes of the guys on that field that day, take that game away. ...
1. River Ridge RG Hayden Krautner won't be fun for opponents to deal with. At 6-3, 300 pounds, he has 4.9-second speed in the 40, and Saturday he was nasty in the trenches. With RT Carlos Santamaria (6-5, 330) and TE Damion Hicks (6-2, 300), the Royal Knights could be a team to watch in Pasco County.
2. Each team tried three kicks, and Countryside's Ryan Pandy, one of Tampa Bay's best, elected to boot his from 51 yards. He made two of the three attempts....
Keith Thurman dismantled another opponent Saturday night, then looked right into the camera, smiled and told the rest of the boxing world what it probably already knows:
"Y'all all are going to have to deal with me pretty soon."
Slowed by a knuckle injury that kept him out of action for most of the past year, the 23-year-old Clearwater welterweight is ready to continue his ascent toward boxing's elite. ...
Tramaine Batten spent his first year in big school playing little league football.
He spent his second blocking for seniors.
He spent his third bursting onto the scene at Dunedin.
"I just can't wait," Batten said. "Senior season, I'm going all out."
Batten developed into one of Tampa Bay's top running backs last season. A 5-foot-10, 190-pound back with 4.6 speed and a nose for contact, Batten ran for 1,194 yards and 10 touchdowns, and had another three touchdowns on receptions....
Because Tampa Bay is a regular stop for most major college scouts the past few years, this spring is bound to yield a bushel of offers for local players. But how many?
While most of the well-known players will just see their already significant offer total grow, there's others, such as Andy Embody, hoping to join their ranks.
The Carrollwood Day rising senior receiver knows it won't be easy....