Even with all the youth baseball talent in Hillsborough County, Jim Moore of the Police Athletic League (PAL) thinks his team of 16-year-olds is one of the best in the county _ and the state. Moore's team started its 21-game season last weekend with three lopsided wins over the squad from Clay County, near Jacksonville, giving him and his three assistant coaches, Roy Tomas, Bryan Gant and Pat O'Brien, hopes for Tampa PAL's first state baseball championship.
The locals showed no mercy to the out-of-town squad, winning 11-1, 26-0 and 13-3.
The second game was stopped after just three innings.
The Tampa PAL squad is part of the 12-team Florida State PAL Grapefruit League. Each team plays a 21-game schedule during a seven-week period.
Moore started as an assistant coach with the team in 1988. The team placed second in the nationals in 1989 and second in the state tournament the past two years.
"We are really excited about this team," Moore said. "I went to the high school coaches in the county to recruit the best and we did. In the past two years we came so close, but we were weak in pitching. This year we have the best pitchers in Hillsborough County."
Kenneth Valdez pitched the 26-0 game, fanning seven of the nine batters he faced and allowing no hits in the three-inning game.
Centerfielder Stephens Deboskey was five-for-five in the game, scoring five runs and recording five RBI.
Also playing for Tampa PAL are Dean Kent, Troy Carrasco, Joseph Villarosa, Ryan Lichtenfels, Sean Baxter, Jason Baxter, John Danner, John Tamargo, Christopher Bryant, David DuBose, Adam Brick, Ryan Canady, Charles Rothenberg, Eric Garcia, Eric Mirza, John Kaufman, Aaron Highsmith and Robert Lentz.
The team is host to Fernandina Beach this weekend, with two games Saturday at 2 and 5 p.m. and a third game Sunday at 9 a.m.
All PAL home games are played at the University of Tampa.
The team will travel to Kissimmee for a double-elimination state tournament on July 16-20.
The winner will play in the national tournament on Aug. 6-10, also in Kissimmee.
Flag football: Mike Scott's flag football team pulled an upset by beating Ron Fraley's squad 39-20 in the championship game of the Tampa Interbay YMCA flag football league.
Scott's and Fraley's teams play in the more experienced A division of the league.
Ed Flon's Green Iguana team beat NCNB 12-2 in the B division. Both teams will move up to the A division this fall.
At halftime in the A division championship game, Scott's team was trailing Fraley's, the defending champions, 14-12.
"We came up with a special defense to stop Fraley's big arm (passing offense) and came through in the second half," Scott said. "The league is getting much more parity. There are now three or four teams (in the A division) that can win it all. We plan to keep the team together if the Y has a summer session and defend our title in the fall."
Playing with Scott are Steve Prevatt, Jack Heiss, Dan Dowell, J.D. Dowell, John Richards, Steve Canton, Tab Joyner and Charlie Martin.
PAL tae kwon do: Members of the PAL tae kwon do team captured three individual titles last weekend in the Olympic Martial Arts Academy Tae Kwon Do Championships in Sebring.
Joe Vazquez, 42, a first-degree black belt instructor, coaches the team and trains it each Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5 to 8 p.m.
Winning championships for the PAL were Lloyd Rhodes, 13, in the junior boys green-belt fighting division, Patti Havener, 21, in the women's forms and Michael Vazquez, 22, in men's second-degree black belt forms.
Placing second were Russell Fullwood, 12, in junior green belt fighting, Greg Schlicher, 13, in junior lightweight fighting for yellow belts and Michael DeJesus, 10, in boys 10-11 fighting for white belts.
First-degree black belts Avery Holt, 16, and Corey Levin, 13, will join yellow belt Folayan Kindred, 16, and Rhodes in Ohio on July 3-7 for the 11th annual U.S. Junior Olympic Tae Kwon Do National Championships.
_ To report Hillsborough County recreational sports write to Terry Jones, St. Petersburg Times Sports, 723 W. Lumsden Road, Brandon, 33510, or call 264-3394.