Matt Baker, Times Staff Writer

Matt Baker joined the Times as a sports reporter in 2011. He previously covered high school and college sports for the Tulsa World and minor league baseball for the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. His work has been honored by the Best American Sports Writing series and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is a Hoosier native and graduated from Northwestern University in 2008.

Phone: (727) 420-9087

Email: mbaker@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MattHomeTeam

  1. State tennis: Bogie's Dan Stefan repeats as singles champ

    Tennis Preps

    CASSELBERRY — Boca Ciega junior Dan Stefan needed a furious rally in his first trip to the state tournament to come away with a championship.

    The only drama in his return trip Tuesday centered on whether the Pirates could sweep the individual bracket honors.

    Stefan cruised to the individual Class 2A singles title and teamed with Nikita Goldenberg to win the individual doubles crown without dropping a set at Red Bug Lake Park....

    East Lake’s Kimberly Herrock, front, and Angel Deng beat the rain to win a semifinal match.
  2. State tennis: Newsome freshman, Plant junior set for singles showdown

    Tennis Preps

    ALTAMONTE SPRINGS — As one Hillsborough County tennis dynasty ended Tuesday, another might have begun.

    Plant's streak of three consecutive team titles ended, but Newsome freshman Kylie Moulin made a valiant comeback to force a tiebreaker and earn the individual Class 4A singles championship at Sanlando Park.

    "It's definitely one of my longest matches," Moulin said, "and it's definitely one I'll always remember." ...

    Plant doesn’t wrap up its fourth straight title, but Erica Oosterhout claims the No. 1 singles title in the 4A team bracket.
  3. State tennis: Plant girls not ready to relinquish crown

    Tennis Preps

    Plant's hopes of a fourth consecutive girls state championship will last until the final day.

    The Panthers are among four teams clustered at the top after the first day of the Class 4A state tournament. They'll resume play, along with rivals Boca Raton, Orlando Dr. Phillips and Cypress Bay, today at Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs.

    "The girls have really shown a lot of resilience," Plant coach Jessica Lamm said....

  4. State tennis: Rough Day 1 for North Suncoast teams

    Tennis Preps

    The Class 2A state tournament didn't quite go as planned for the Nature Coast boys and Pasco girls.

    The Sharks won only one of five opening-round singles matches and lost both doubles matches at the boys team tournament at Red Bug Lake Park in Casselberry on Monday. Alec Lund defeated Alexander Thompson of Gulf Breeze at No. 4 singles 1-6, 6-2, 10-8. In the semifinal, Lund lost to Laurentiu Schinteie of Miami Gulliver Prep 6-0, 6-0....

  5. A tour around the tourneys

    Softballpreps

    As district softball tournaments monopolize fields across Hillsborough County starting today, here are some of the most interesting matchups and players.

    Best potential matchup

    Bloomingdale-Alonso: The possible showdown for the 8A-7 title features two of the county's top teams with only six losses between them. The teams split their regular-season meetings by one run each. The Bulls feature an ace in Buffalo commit Lace Smith and have shut out six of their past eight opponents. But few teams boast the firepower of Alonso, which is led by Florida State recruit Jessica Warren (seven home runs, 23 RBIs)....

    Cambridge Christian’s Alea White has struck out 212 batters. But in the 2A-7 final, she will face Academy of the Lakes’ Lauren Evans, who is hitting .682.
  6. Region tennis: Tampa Prep reaches state

    Tennis Preps

    TAMPA — As Tampa Prep celebrated its Class A, Region 4 title Thursday, sopho­more Paige Leavy glanced down at the trophy clutched in her teammate's arms.

    "Look at the color," Leavy said. "We're so used to silver."

    After back-to-back runnerup finishes, the Terrapins finally earned gold, beating Clearwater Central Catholic 4-1 at Hills­borough Community College to secure their first trip to state since 2006....

  7. Region tennis: AHN depth proves necessary in Class 2A

    Tennis Preps

    TAMPA — With her team's region final hopes at stake, Academy of the Holy Names star Caroline Lozo made a rare stumble. Luckily for the five-time district champ, Lozo has plenty of depth behind her.

    The Jaguars' bottom three singles players and the No. 2 doubles team all earned easy victories to lead the AHN girls tennis team to a 4-2 win over Sarasota Booker in Wednesday's Class 2A region semifinal at Hillsborough Community College....

  8. USF uses committee, coordinators to enforce Title IX laws

    College

    TAMPA — To tackle Title IX's wide-reaching duties, USF coordinator Jose E. Hernandez uses an advisory committee and deputy coordinators.

    The committee — made up of faculty, student and administrators — handles the federal law's broad goal of evaluating the school's culture. It looks at what discrimination problems loom largest and possible proactive approaches such as bringing in guest speakers. It also gauges how comfortable women are to report incidents and if they can do so easily....

  9. FSU Title IX investigation goes beyond sports

    College

    The federal investigation revealed Thursday into how Florida State handled rape accusations against star quarterback Jameis Winston goes beyond sports.

    Title IX's guidelines for schools to provide equal athletic opportunities for men and women are well known, but the federal law also governs how they treat sex discrimination, including harassment and rape.

    The shift in the 40-year-old law stems from a 2011 Department of Education memo that charged schools with a massive task: change the culture of on-campus sexual violence....

    Prosecutors didn’t file charges against Jameis Winston, but FSU faces a federal investigation over how it handled the allegations.
  10. U.S. investigating FSU's handling of Jameis Winston case

    College

    The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is investigating whether Florida State University violated federal laws in how it handled sexual assault allegations against star quarterback Jameis Winston.

    The department notified all parties of the Title IX investigation Thursday, a month after receiving a complaint and the same day a Deadspin.com report raised more questions about FSU's response to the December 2012 accusations....

    Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston appeared at a hearing in January.
  11. Ganassi drivers battle to salvage solid finishes

    Auto racing

    ST. PETERSBURG — Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing traded barbs last week, with Penske president Tim Cindric comparing the IndyCar's powerhouse teams to the Yankees and Marlins.

    Penske's Yankees won Sunday, placing two drivers in the top three. But Ganassi's Marlins weren't too far behind.

    Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon battled car problems to finish in the top six, and Ganassi overcame a handful of other problems to place three of its cars in the top 10....

    Tony Kanaan leads Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon. Problems for Ganassi drivers include a broken knob (Kanaan), early pit (Dixon) and wreck (Ryan Briscoe).
  12. Tire management contributes to Sato's seventh-place finish

    Auto racing

    ST. PETERSBURG — Takuma Sato started out just fine, but his pace fell off to a seventh-place finish in Sunday's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

    The problems for the pole-sitter began when Will Power passed him for the lead on Lap 31, a lap after the first pit stop in his No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing Honda.

    "We had a small issue, and in getting the black (regular compound) tires, we mismanaged the tires," Sato said. "And we couldn't get back to speed, so we lost a few places there. At the end, it was very difficult to make up places on the track from what we lost in the pit."...

    Takuma Sato started out just fine, but his pace fell off to a seventh-place finish in Sunday's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
  13. Penske sticks to racing, not Ganassi rivalry

    Auto racing

    ST. PETERSBURG — IndyCar team owner Roger Penske has had an interesting week even before the racing got under way after team president Tim Cindric's comments about Chip Ganassi Racing went public.

    Thursday, USA Today quoted Cindric as saying Penske Racing's rivalry against Ganassi's team, which has won five of the past six series championships, wasn't like Yankees-Red Sox so much as Yankees-Marlins, "a team with a long history against a younger team that came on strong and won a couple of World Series."...

    No. 1 for a while: Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ryan Briscoe takes Turn 10 on his way to the fastest practice time during the morning session. Later Saturday, Briscoe qualifies ninth.
  14. Takuma Sato earns Grand Prix of St. Petersburg pole

    Auto racing

    ST. PETERSBURG

    When hours of rain made a slick track even slicker, the conditions became ideal for one of IndyCar's most aggressive drivers.

    Takuma Sato topped 21 cars and mastered an ever-changing track Saturday evening to win the pole for today's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. His No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing Honda finished with a lap of 1 minute, 1.8686 seconds (104.738 mph) to qualify almost three-tenths of a second faster than Tony Kanaan....

    A.J. Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato celebrates his first IndyCar pole in St. Petersburg. His best lap was nearly half a mile per hour faster than second-place Tony Kanaan.
  15. Steady Scott Dixon piles up success at Ganassi

    Auto racing

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Scott Dixon began his 2013 season with a rare struggle — a 20th-place qualifying run at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

    By the end of the race, Dixon had climbed his way to a fifth-place finish. And by the end of the season, he was an IndyCar series champion, again.

    The 33-year-old has spent his career quietly, steadily hiding in the celebrity shadow of former teammate Dario Franchitti. With Franchitti retired, Dixon has the chance to become the face of powerhouse Chip Ganassi Racing and cement his status as one of the greatest drivers in series history....