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Rodney Page, Times Staff Writer

Rodney Page

Rodney Page covers golf and community sports. He has worked at the Times since 1996.

Phone: (727) 893-8810

E-mail: page@tampabay.com

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  1. District baseball roundup: IRC beats Calvary Christian for 3A-9 title

    Baseballpreps

    ST. PETERSBURG — George Koulianos had a night to remember on Friday.

    The Indian Rocks Christian senior pitched 5⅔ innings of shutout relief and had the winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning to help IRC defeat Calvary Christian 3-2 in the Class 3A, District 9 final. It is the Golden Eagles' first district championship since 2003.

    "The first time I ever pitched it was against Calvary and they hit me around,'' Koulianos said. "When I got the ball tonight I told myself that I wasn't going to lose this one.''...

  2. Spring football primer for Pinellas County

    Footballpreps

    Spring football practices start Monday for high schools around the state, and the annual evaluation of talent and position battles begins as teams retake the field.

    New coaches in the mix

    Pinellas County had a slew of new coaches prior to the 2014 season, so this year seems tame by comparison. There are four new head coaches — and one interim. Only Mike Lube at Tarpon Springs takes over a team with a winning record....

    S Craig Watts drops back into coverage during Gibbs High School Football practice in St. Petersburg  Monday afternoon (08/11/14).
  3. District baseball roundup: Bishop McLaughlin hot from the start

    Baseballpreps

    TAMPA — Bishop McLaughlin left little doubt as to which team is tops in Class 3A, District 7.

    In Thursday night's tournament final, the top-seeded Hurricanes scored five first-inning runs and eased their way to a 7-1 win over No. 3 seed Carrollwood Day. Franklin German struck out 11 in six innings to earn the win.

    "Scoring early is always key, especially in games where there is some pressure like a district final,'' Hurricane coach Jeff Swymer said. "It gives your pitcher confidence to attack with the fastball. When we get a lead like that we can just let our defense play.''...

    Bishop McLaughlin’s Hunter Perez, left, slides into third base as Carrollwood Day’s Bryce Benedict tries to tag him out. The Hurricanes won the 3A-7 district title 7-1.
  4. District baseball roundup: Northeast vs. Seminole final on tap

    Baseballpreps

    ST. PETERSBURG — When Northeast and Seminole met last week in the PCAC championship, the only thing at stake was bragging rights. When they meet again Friday, a Class 7A, District 9 championship is at stake.

    Northeast used a big sixth inning to surge past Countryside 6-2 in Wednesday's first semifinal. In the second, Seminole scored early and Joe Favetta pitched a complete game as the Warhawks beat top seed East Lake 6-3....

    Largo’s Jordan Mazzuco slides back to first base during the fourth inning of Osceola’s 2-1 extra-inning victory.
  5. Pasco high school football teams have questions as spring practice starts

    Footballpreps

    Spring football practices start Monday for high schools around the state, and the annual evaluation of talent and position battles begins as teams retake the field.

    How to repeat last year's magic

    Last season, junior running back Chris Schwarz came out of nowhere, rushing for a Pasco County record 2,689 yards and 27 touchdowns after putting up just 204 yards and three scores as a sophomore. Schwarz is back, but the biggest question the Royal Knights have going into the spring is who will block for him....

    River Ridge’s Chris Schwarz (carrying the ball) hits Tarpon Springs’ Jacquez Holmes during the Class 5A region quarterfinal. Schwarz ran for 2,689 yards in 2014.
  6. District baseball: Bogie, Lakewood to square off

    Baseballpreps

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Class 5A, District 10 final will be between neighborhood rivals.

    Top seed Boca Ciega got seven strong innings from starter Marlin Lagesse and benefitted from 10 Bradenton Southeast walks to win 5-1 Tuesday afternoon. Later in the evening, Lakewood pitcher Vince Iacone threw a three-hitter and the Spartans had 11 hits in a 6-0 win over Bradenton Bayshore.

    No. 2 seed Lakewood (13-13) will play at Boca Ciega (13-11) on Thursday at 4 p.m. for the district title. The Pirates won both regular-season games....

  7. District baseball preview: Can a local team go the distance?

    Baseballpreps

    This time last year, Jesuit limped into the Class 5A playoffs, losers of three of its last five games with nine players suspended for violating a school policy. Of course, the Tigers went on to win seven straight and a state championship.

    Do they have another run in them this season? Does any team in Tampa Bay have a chance to be this year's Jesuit? Tampa Bay has had several state champions in the past decade, including Alonso (2011, 2009), Dunedin (2008) and Clearwater Central Catholic (2007). And though there are many teams that have the potential to make a run this year, predicting just who that will be could be a challenge thanks to extreme parity....

    Entering districts, Jesuit looks to defend its state title with a strong pitching staff which includes No. 2 starter Bobby Hearn (4-3, 1.56 ERA).
  8. Miller: This season is my last

    Baseballpreps

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Scott Miller insists this is it.

    Unlike when he took some time off after 10 years at Northeast High School, or when he did the same after four years at Countryside and four more at Seminole, Miller said his varsity head coaching days are over whenever St. Petersburg Catholic ends its playoff run. The district tournament begins next week.

    "The desire to do it just isn't there anymore," said Miller, 60. "It's time."...

    St. Petersburg Catholic head coach Scott Miller chats with Clay Looney during the second inning of last week’s game against Calvary Christian. Miller said that he is retiring from baseball at the end of the season and teaching at the end of the school year.
  9. Baseball: Calvary Christian 9, St. Petersburg Catholic 1

    Baseballpreps

    ST. PETERSBURG — Calvary Christian pounded out 12 hits and got seven solid innings from sophomore left-handed starter Collin Booten in Friday night's 9-1 win over Class 3A, District 9 opponent St. Petersburg Catholic. The Warriors (15-5, 9-1) snapped a three-game losing streak and the Barons' win streak ended at six.

    "We haven't been getting those key two-out hits lately," Calvary Christian coach Greg Olsen said. "We haven't been doing the things that have to happen for us. We were able to do that (Friday)."...

  10. Region tennis roundup: Special motivation for Holy Names

    Tennis Preps

    TAMPA —Academy of the Holy Names easily advanced to its seventh straight Class 2A state tournament Thursday after winning all five singles matches against Lakeland McKeel Academy at Hillsborough Community College. While going to the state tournament has become routine for the Jaguars, this year's trip has special meaning.

    Players and coaches have dedicated this season to Sydney Wynne, a former teammate who died on Christmas morning after complications from liver cancer. Wynne was a member of the team her freshman and sophomore years. While she wasn't a starter, Wynne still showed up for every practice and match....

    Holy Names’ Caroline Lozo honors teammate Sydney Wynne by wearing her initials.
  11. Gibbs names Plant City assistant Jon Thompson head football coach

    Footballpreps

    Jon Thompson was named football coach at Gibbs on Monday morning. He becomes the fifth head coach at the school since 2007. Thompson, 29, was an assistant coach at Plant City for two seasons. Prior to that he was an assistant for three years at Tallahassee Lincoln.

    "I understand the commitment they have to the football program and they understand the vision that I have for the program," Thompson said. "We have to hit the ground running. We don't have a lot of time. We need to put a staff together, we have to assess academic situations. We start with study hall and workouts (Tuesday)."...

  12. Tampa Bay Times' all-Tampa Bay girls basketball

    Preps

    Hillsborough County Player of the Year: G Taylor Emery, Sr., Freedom

    Averaging 36.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.3 steals per game, Emery stood out all over the court during her senior year. Putting the ball in the basket, though, was where she especially excelled. Emery finished second in the nation in scoring and was top 30 in the state in steals while leading Freedom to a Class 7A region final. With her 2,540th career point, Emery broke the Hillsborough County all-time leading scorer record — one that had stood for nearly 17 years — in the Patriots' 66-50 District 8 championship win against Wiregrass Ranch on Jan. 30. Emery finished her career with 2,689 points. ...

    Times area players of the year: Nature Coast’s Rita Jarque (top), Lakewood’s Siyana Allen (left), and Freedom’s Taylor Emery.
  13. River Ridge baseball keeps eye on season's biggest matchups

    Baseballpreps

    DUNEDIN — As the sun set behind Field 3 at Englebert Complex on Monday evening, River Ridge High coach Jack Homko huddled with his team after an opening-round loss to Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High in the Dunedin Spring Classic. The Royal Knights had a four-run lead but lost 6-5 on a walk-off single. Homko calmly — then sometimes not so calmly — explained to his team that they must play better as the final weeks of the season wind down....

    Jason Heinrich, a potential top 20-round MLB draft pick, eased off pitching this season.
  14. 14 teams vie for Dunedin Spring Classic baseball tournament title

    Baseballpreps

    Last year's final of the Dunedin Spring Classic had the potential to be one of the best in its 45-year history. Clearwater Central Catholic, the top private school baseball team in the area with senior pitcher David Paul, was set to play Osceola, one of the area's top public school teams with Stanford-bound pitcher Keith Weisenberg.

    It never happened.

    Rain plagued the tournament and the championship game, already pushed back to Saturday, was rained out. There were co-champions for the first time in tournament history. ...

    The 46th Dunedin Spring Classic opens without a defending champion after the 2014 championship game was rained out.
  15. Former Rays pitcher, Keswick Christian baseball coach Seth McClung arrested

    Baseballpreps

    Former Tampa Bay Rays pitcher and current Keswick Christian baseball coach Seth McClung was arrested Monday on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge.

    McClung was booked at 12:41 a.m. Monday and held on $500 bond, then was released at 7:04 p.m. the same day, according to a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office arrest report.

    McClung, 34, is in his first year as head coach of the Crusaders baseball team. They were 10-3 prior to Tuesday's game against West High School of Knoxville, Tenn. Before coaching baseball at Keswick, McClung coached girls basketball for two seasons at Pinellas Park and two more at Osceola. ...

    Seth McClung