It's a sure sign that spring has sprung when baseball and softball have begun. With the winter sports season winding toward its conclusion, spring sports are preparing for their day in the sun.
Western Conference baseball and softball action begins today, with seven games in each sport. In baseball, the spotlight game is Armwood at Chamberlain, a rematch of last season's Class 4A, Region III state playoff.
The Hawks and Chiefs split their four meetings in 1989, but it was 4A-District 5 champion Armwood that won the most important game _ 7-1 in the 4A-III final behind Sterling Hitchcock's three-hit, 14-strikeout performance. Armwood (22-8) lost to eventual 4A state titlist Sarasota in the section round.
Chamberlain, which upset Jefferson in the 4A-District 6 final last season, is the Western Conference's defending American Division champion. Besides district and region titles, Armwood won the Tony Saladino Tournament a year ago.
"We're just anxious for something different," said Armwood coach K.B. Scull, whose club returns five starters. "We're all tired of practice. You can only accomplish so much playing against yourself. Chamberlain has a pretty good club again, so it should be good."
Game time is 7 p.m. at Forest Hills Little League complex.
Other games on today's baseball schedule include Bloomingdale at Hillsborough, Brandon at Leto, Jefferson at East Bay, Plant City at Gaither, TBV-T at Plant, and King at Tampa Catholic.
In fast-pitch softball, Chamberlain at Plant heads today's schedule. Chamberlain won District 4 last year despite an overall 5-18 record. Plant (15-6) was the District 5 winner. Both teams lost in the region round of the playoffs. The game starts at 3 p.m.
The rest of today's schedule has Armwood at defending state runner-up Brandon, Robinson at Bloomingdale, Hillsborough at East Bay, Gaither at Plant City, Jefferson at TBV-T, and King at Leto.
The boys and girls tennis season began Monday. Boys and girls golf started last Tuesday. The boys and girls track season begins one week from today.
Urso reduces choices
to Miami and Tampa
TAMPA _ Plant High left-handed pitcher Salvy Urso, one of the nation's top prep baseball recruits, has narrowed his collegiate choices to the University of Miami and the University of Tampa, Urso said Monday.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound senior has taken official recruiting visits to Miami, Georgia, Florida State and Alabama. He canceled a trip to LSU this month and visited the University of Tampa on an unofficial basis in January. Urso initially planned to make his decision before today's opening of the 1990 high school baseball season. Now, he said, he intends to announce a verbal commitment within two weeks.
As a junior last season, Urso was the consensus Hillsborough County player of the year and a first-team selection on the Class 3A all-state team. He set a school record for victories (13-0) and fanned 101 batters in 76 innings. Offensively, he clubbed eight home runs (another school record) and drove in a team-high 27 runs.
"I was hoping to have a decision, but at least I know it's either Tampa or Miami," Urso said. "In about two weeks I should know what I'm going to do."
Plant, the defending 3A state runner-up, opens its season today at home against Tampa Bay Vo-Tech.