Ask John Kaufman what he remembers most about his trek to the Pony Colt World Series last summer, and he'll tell you about them Texas Twisters. Kaufman was sitting in a Texas hotel room with a group of his teammates from the Forest Hills Pony Colt team the day before beginning play for the Zone III title.
Kaufman looked out the hotel window just in time to see part of the roof fly off the building.
"I guess we were lucky because the tornado hit the other side of our hotel," said Kaufman, a pitcher for Seminole Post 111 this year. "When I looked out the window, everything went wild. There was a tree that was almost completely blown over, part of the roof flew into the pool, and the wind was so loud that it almost pierced your ears. Then we got a call and someone said there was a tornado, and we should all get into the bathtub."
Although this summer has been a bit less adventurous for Kaufman, his success on the baseball field has remained as steady as a plains wind.
Starting for only the second time this season, Kaufman (3-0) took the mound Sunday against North Tampa Post 334 with first place in the District 13 standings wavering in the balance.
He recorded the win in Seminole's 10-2 victory, scattering four hits and striking out six over seven innings.
Kaufman was used mainly as a reliever by Chamberlain coach David Kent during the high school season, but was forced to start Sunday because Seminole's top three starters were at Beach Week.
"He was my closer during the high school season, so we had no way of knowing that he would be so strong over seven innings," Kent said. "He was totally fearless out on the mound, and I think the experience in the (Pony Colt) World Series has helped him a lot with his confidence this year."
Seminole assistant coach Ron Mason said that with Mike Piltarer (who has signed with Polk Community College), Mike Swinson (Manatee Community College) and Tim Ridell (St. Petersburg Community College), all unable to play on Sunday, there was some indecision about who would be Seminole's starter against Post 334.
"David and I were talking about it on the way over to the game," Mason said. "Although John was mainly a reliever this year, we felt like he would be moved into the starting rotation next season because Chamberlain is losing so many pitchers. So we decided to give him the ball."
Adding more fuel to the fire on Sunday was the rivalry between King and Chamberlain. Although the Chiefs finished the 1991 season with a 17-8 record, they were unceremoniously bounced from the state playoffs by King in the second round of the district tournament. North Tampa Post 334 is made up of mostly King High School players, while Seminole Post 111 is comprised mainly of players from Chamberlain.
"There's no doubt about it, we wanted revenge on Sunday," said Seminole's Mike Buttery, who is sixth among District 13 hitters with a .428 average. "We expected to go a lot farther than we did during the high school season.
"First King beat us in the Saladino Tournament, then beat us in the district, so there was plenty of incentive for us to win on Sunday. Our goal this year is to accomplish what we didn't in the high school year - we want to win the state tournament."
Rain Check: The championship game of the American Legion Memorial Tournament between North Tampa Post 334 and Sarasota Post 30 will be played Saturday beginning at 5 p.m. at King High School. The game was rained out May 27 at Armwood.
Double Trouble: After losing to Seminole Post 111 on Sunday, Tampa Post 334 dropped a 10-3 decision to Bloomingdale Post 138 in the second half of a doubleheader.
The losses dropped Post 334 from first to third place in the District 13 standings, while lifting Seminole and Bloomingdale to first and second place, respectively.
"I made a mistake in trying to make up the rain out with Bloomingdale after playing Seminole," Post 334 coach Eddie Rocha said. "It was too hot to play teams of that caliber on the same day."
Bloomingdale's Jason Leek (2-0) picked up the victory, while Post 334's Adam Danner was tabbed the loser.
"I think that these kids feel like they have a lot to show this year," Bloomingdale coach Tim Ruth said. "The way that they lost in the (high school) state semifinals, I think they want another shot to win a state title at Boardwalk and Baseball (where the American Legion state championship is played)."
Batter's barrage: Town 'n Country Post 152 sent nine batters to the plate in each of its first four innings against Lake Wales Sunday at Gaither High School. Post 152 piled up 17 hits and defeated Lake Wales 18-4.
"I've been coaching a long, long time, and I've never seen it done. I don't know if it's ever been done," Town 'n Country coach Frank Permuy said. "We've been hitting the ball well, and beating all the teams we should beat. But when we play teams that are just as competitive as us, we're having trouble."