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Billiards players to try Vegas

A team of eight billiards players from Crystal River will travel to Las Vegas this summer to play in the American Busch League national tournament.

The Port Paradise team of Dade Conger, Billy Riley, Fred Steffen, Keith Rigalo, Phil Milam, Linda Conger, Beverly Risher and Mike Rector beat out six other teams from Citrus and Hernando counties.

The local Busch League is comprised of 16 teams, mostly from Hernando County, that play three seasons _ spring, summer and fall.

The national eight-ball tournament, to be held in August, has a $100,000 purse.

"This is pretty exciting," Dade Conger said. "I've traveled before, but not for pool."

Coed league opens: The Citrus County Parks and Recreation Department's Coed Softball League began its seven-week season Tuesday night with two games at Bicentennial Park.

K & D Wantabees defeated the No Names 9-7 in the opener. Wantabees' George McKinney clubbed a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning to decide the game, wiping out a 7-6 lead held by the No Names. Chrissee Lolly paced the attack for the No Names with a 2-for-2 effort and two runs scored.

The nightcap was a slugfest in which Crystal Chevrolet outlasted Black Diamond 10-7. Stacey Daigneau doubled in a run and Randy David added a two-run triple during a five-run uprising by Black Diamond in the third inning.

But a 5-3 advantage Black Diamond took into the fifth inning disappeared when Crystal Chevrolet erupted for six runs. A two-run triple by Vickie Humphrey was the key blow.

Charles Pope went 3-for-3 and scored twice for Crystal Chevrolet, which has a bye in the five-team league next Tuesday night when the second week of games is played at the Harley Levins Complex. An unnamed team from Inverness will face the No Names in the first game at 7 p.m., and K & D Wantabees will take on Black Diamond in the second game at approximately 8:15 p.m.

A double-elimination tournament July 31 will conclude the coed season.

Church league winners: When the dust settled Saturday afternoon, two new champions reigned in the Citrus County Church League. First Baptist/Inverness and Fort Cooper Baptist had tiebreaking games in both men's and women's play, with each winning a title.

In the men's division, First Baptist came out swinging, scoring 17 runs in the first three innings en route to a 21-9 victory against Fort Cooper. The win left First Baptist 12-1 and Fort Cooper Baptist 10-2. The game was expected to be close, since each team came from behind to take narrow wins over each other in regulation play this season, but a seven-run first and an eight-run third was too much for Fort Cooper to overcome.

Leading the way for First Baptist was Chris Seaman, 17, who had a career day with two triples and two home runs, knocking in six runs and scoring three. Seaman and teammate Brian Sullivan both joined the team in mid-May after completing their baseball season on the Citrus High team.

The other First Baptist player to go a perfect 4-for-4 was pitcher Skip Norton, who a week earlier had forced this tiebreaker by knocking in the go-ahead run against Fort Cooper. Bill Mitchell and Bryan Hudson also contributed, with Mitchell hitting a home run and knocking in five runs, and shortstop Hudson getting three hits and three RBI. Mark Swander scored four times for First Baptist.

Fort Cooper's offense was lead by Ben Crofchick, who was 4-for-4 with a home run. But his supporting cast was unable to reach First Baptist starting pitcher Norton, who came out of the game with his team on top 21-6.

Although First Baptist is among the top church teams each year, this is its first championship in more than five years, according to Crofchick, the league president.

Other First Baptist team members include Ken Berry, Larry Bishop, Robert Dupler, Steve Hasel, Alan Hill, Jim Hughes, David Joseph, Charles Kelly, Greg Meahl, David Mills, Bruce Nelson and Jerry Pickett.

Fort Cooper's women's team had better fortune Saturday, winning a critical game against Church of God by a 13-8 score and then coming back to beat First Baptist/Inverness 11-5 to break their tie and win the championship. Fort Cooper finished 9-3, winning eight of its last nine games, while First Baptist was 8-4. Church of God took third place with a 6-5 record.

_ Staff writer Steve Hasel and correspondent Terry Organ contributed to this report.

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