The Saint Leo Monarchs baseball team was bolstered this season by five former Pinellas high school graduates.
They helped the team achieve a 41-15 record in the Division II Sunshine State Conference. Playing against perennial powers Florida Southern, the University of Tampa, North Florida, Eckerd and Barry, the team compiled a 11-10 record in the conference. The team batting average was .315 and they had a school-record 20-game winning streak.
Three of the regulars were products of coach Bill Brinker's strong program at Seminole High. They were:
Cleanup hitter R.J. Hendricks, a junior first baseman who led the team with seven homers. He tied with 39 RBI and batted .291. Hendricks was the regular catcher during the 1994 season and earned all-conference first team honors.
Leftfielder Eric Ondrey, a sophomore, had the team's third highest batting average _ .347. He was also third in hits, 69, and runs scored, 43. Ondrey stole 19 of 22 attempts.
Joel Place had a team-leading 20 appearances on the pitching mound, compiling a 4-2 record and 4.40 ERA, mostly in relief.
Clearwater Catholic graduate Gary Wilson's 2.14 ERA was 10th best in the nation among Division II pitchers. The Troy State transfer had a 4-2 record as a spot starter, with one shutout.
Freshman Jeff Burroughs (Dunedin High) saw action in 15 games and compiled a .333 batting average. He played JV ball regularly.
Gender rivalry: Dunedin graduate Joe Saturno, a Navy petty officer on board the USS Yellowstone, has been selected to play on the all-Navy team against the touring Colorado Silver Bullets. The Silver Bullets are made up of the top 22 women baseball players in the country and are the only all female professional baseball team in America. They are playing 50 games this summer in major and minor-league stadiums.
Saturno was scheduled to start at second base in Tuesday's game at Norfolk, Virginia's Harbor Park, home of the New York Mets Triple-A baseball club. The game was rained out, however, and has been rescheduled for the 18th. Another all-Navy-Silver Bullets game is scheduled for today at Washington's Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.
"I'm confident we can win," said Saturno, whose Navy duty is as an interior communications electrician. "We have some guys who played college ball and a couple who played pro. We have really come together as a good team in a short period of time."
Softball: Jill Weaver (Largo), the Times 1994 player of the year who just completed a 25-15 record with Hillsborough Community College, is pitching this summer for the Tampa Bay Smokers.
Football: Clearwater High graduate Matt Valone, who played on the offensive line for the Tornadoes for four years and also at Delta (Cleveland, Miss.) State, was awarded the Statesman Award for 1994-1995. Delta State plays a Division II schedule in the Gulf South Conference.
The award is given to the athlete who reflects the best attitude under adverse conditions, such as playing while injured, and for overall team leadership. Valone graduated with a degree in health, recreation and physical education. He is back in Clearwater looking for a position in the business field.
Pro football: Kelly Sims (Gibbs/Cincinnati) and Karl McGill (Dunedin/Notre Dame) have earned a place in the World Bowl as members of the Amsterdam Admirals of the World League of American Football. Sims plays defensive back; McGill is a defensive end. Both have run back touchdowns this season for the first-half winners of the WLAF. The Admirals are also leading the league standing for the second half of the season.
Track: Irvin Whitehead (Boca Ciega) broke the Teikyo Westmar school record in the 400 meters with a time of 46.20 at the NAIA national track and field championships at Azusa, Calif., on May 27. Whitehead held the previous record of 46.48. He finished second in the 400 for the second consecutive year, earning NAIA All-America honors.
Whitehead also earned All-America honors during the indoor season when he placed third at the national championships.
With one more season to play in football, Whitehead is expected to improve as the college's all-time leader with a career average of 36.9 yards per catch. He's a wide receiver with 1,103 career yards in receptions, 41 catches and eight touchdowns.