University of Tampa baseball players abandoned their bats and gloves for more down-to-earth pursuits last Friday when they took up shovels to dig a trench around their ballpark, Sam Bailey Field.
The reason? The athletic department has raised enough money for the installation of lights, and they're wasting no time in beginning the project.
"We're helping dig the ditches to speed up the process," said UT coach Lelo Prado. "I've been at UT for eight years and we've been trying to get lights since then. They'll be working by opening night."
UT athletic director Hindman Wall said the fund drive for lights has raised "from $125,000 to $130,000, entirely from private contributions."
Tampa will play a 55-game schedule beginning in early February. Prado anticipates rescheduling all weekday home games and some Saturdays to evening (7 p.m.) starts. Tuesday games will be targeted at downtown business people, with a 6 p.m. start time, Prado said. Sunday games will remain afternoon contests.
Showdown at Southern: For the UT volleyball team, the long-anticipated grudge match against Florida Southern occurred last Saturday night when they defeated the Moccasins in their own tournament in five games.
On Wednesday night, the Spartans (13-2 overall, 5-0 SSC) put their conference lead on the line when they traveled to Lakeland again to take on the Mocs (13-4, 4-1) in a match that counts in the conference race (Saturday's game did not).
Last year, Tampa won all three regular-season meetings, the SSC title and was ranked third in Division II, but lost to the Mocs in the NCAA South Region tournament final, canceling a national championship bid. The Mocs were ranked ahead of UT this season until last weekend's match. The Spartans are now No. 8 in Division II. FSC is No. 9.
Entering Wednesday night's match at Southern, UT had won 21 consecutive regular-season conference matches. The last loss was Oct. 25, 1990 to Florida Southern.
Tampa finished second in the FSC Invitational over the weekend, losing to third-ranked North Dakota State in a four-game final. The loss snapped UT's 13-match winning streak.
All-tournament performances: Sophomore Amy Edwards of Bloomingdale set a school record on Friday with nine solo blocks against No. 15 Central Missouri State. Edwards, who stands 6-foot-2, was named the SSC volleyball athlete of the week.
Junior setter Katia Serkovic _ who tied her own school record of 68 assists against North Dakota State _ was named to the FSC Invitational all-tournament team along with Edwards.
The Spartans host the Yucatan Classic this Friday and Saturday. The featured match is UT vs. top-ranked Portland (Ore.) State (16-1) on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Recharged and ready: Tampa's soccer team, ranked No. 1 in Division II for the third straight week, put its undefeated, untied record on the line at Florida Southern on Tuesday night after a 10-day layoff.
Rather than showing some rust, the Spartans were strong from start to finish, punishing the Mocs 8-1. Senior George Fotopolous and freshman Kristjan Brooks each had three goals. Fotopoulos leads the team with 11 goals and three assists. Brooks is right behind with 11 goals and two assists.
Freshman Juan Panesso and senior Joe Lhota also scored for Tampa (8-0-0, 4-0-0). It was the second career goal for Lhota in 56 games.
Next up for the Spartans is No. 18 Barry (8-3-1, 3-0-0) at Miami Shores on Sunday afternoon in a game that likely will determine the SSC champion.