With the high school baseball season set to begin Friday, Hillsborough County teams will get a dress rehearsal for the first time this year.
A preseason tournament is scheduled for today and Wednesday at three sites. There will be four teams at each site, with each team playing two games.
"This is something that we've been trying to get for a couple of years now," said Armwood coach K.B. Scull, whose school will be one of the sites. "The teams are responsible for the transportation, and our booster club is paying for the officials (at Armwood), so the county isn't out any money.
"We figure it will cost about $650 to put it on (at Armwood). So we'll be charging admission. That's not something we usually do at games, but we're trying to make some of that money back."
At Armwood today, King will play Hillsborough at 4 p.m. before Gaither faces the host Hawks about 7 p.m. The two losers will play Wednesday at 4 p.m., with the winners meeting at 7 p.m.
Other sites include Plant (where Jefferson and Robinson play at 4 p.m. today, followed by Leto and Plant at 7 p.m.) and Brandon (Bloomingdale vs. Plant City at 5 p.m.; Brandon vs. East Bay at 8 p.m.).
"I think all the area coaches are excited about it," said Brandon coach Greg Parris, who coached at East Bay last year. "I'm opening up with my old team, so that should be interesting. We're just going to try and have fun with it, and play as many players as we can."
The only public schools not in the tournament are Chamberlain and Tampa Bay Vo-Tech. Meanwhile, Jesuit is playing in a preseason tournament in Dunedin, which got under way Monday and guarantees the Tigers four games.
"First I heard that there was no way it would happen (in Hillsborough County), so I went out and found another one," Jesuit coach John Crumbley said. "Then when I found out it was happening, it was too late because I had committed to the Dunedin tourney. But I'll take four games over two any day."
Jesuit officially began its season Friday with a 10-0 win over Lakeland Kathleen. Jesuit had to revamp its schedule after the county forced the area's public schools to drop one game from their schedules because of the budget crisis.
"The tournament is especially helpful this year because we were forced to drop a game," Jefferson coach Pop Cuesta said. "I've got a young team, and this will give me an opportunity to use a lot of people and make up that game we lost."