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Sobik stars in Tigers organization

A former Clearwater Central Catholic baseball pitcher is tied for the most wins in the Detroit Tigers organization.

Trad Sobik, a fourth-round draft selection last year, has a 7-4 record this season with the Fayetteville (N.C.) Generals of the Class A South Atlantic League. He has a team-leading ERA of 3.30 with 48 strikeouts and 33 walks in 85 innings. This weekend, the 6-foot-3, 175-pound right-hander was to start against the Hagerstown Suns in search of his eighth win of the season.

The key to his success, Sobik said in a phone interview from Fayetteville, is to know the strengths and weaknesses of the batters you are going to face, mix up your pitches and hit your spots.

"This league isn't that tough," said Sobik, who was 2-0 (0.00 ERA in 35 innings) with Bristol (Tenn.) in the Appalachian League last year. "One reason is I'm getting better. "I use a fastball, circle change and curveball with good control. I haven't had a wild pitch all season.

"It's different for me from high school. There, I was a power pitcher throwing hard. Here, I'm both that and a finesse pitcher mixing up my speeds to keep them off guard. I usually get them to fly out or ground out."

Sobik credits Clearwater Catholic pitching coach Steve Sharts with his conversion from catcher to pitcher in his junior year, and teaching him his repertoire.

"Coach Sharts also showed me what I was doing wrong," said Sobik, who passed up a scholarship offer from the University of South Florida to sign with the Tigers. "(Head) coach Todd Vaughn has helped me a lot. He knew I had the talent and worked with me teaching me a lot of stuff."

Although Sobik hasn't been credited with a complete game win this season, he isn't worried about it.

"The team is winning and even if you are having a great game they'll take you out in the late innings," he said. "They've got other pitchers they've got to work in. That's the object of the system here."

With his winning record, Sobik hopes to advance in the Tigers' organization next season. "It depends on how I do in spring training," he added. "I'm confident I can pitch at Lakeland (Florida State League) and I'm looking to move on to (Double-A) Jacksonville too."

More baseball: Right-handed pitcher Darren McClellan (Seminole/Florida) signed earlier in the week with the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the Northern League. McClellan led the Gators with 11 wins this season against four losses. He reeled off a school record-tying eight consecutive wins.

Basketball: Louis Rowe (Lakewood/James Madison University) is averaging eight points and two rebounds for the 23-2 USBL Florida Sharks, who play out of the Manatee Civic Center in Palmetto. The team plays Long Island in the opening game of the playoffs on Wednesday. "Louis has been a great surprise who will probably be the team's rookie of the year," said Phil Helman, the Sharks assistant general manager.

Boca Ciega teammates Dain Brown and Elbert Newton, key members of coach Randy Shuman's 1994 state 4A championship team, have signed with Santa Fe Community College. Brown was named the 1995 5A player of the year. Santa Fe coach Jeff Burkhamer said of Brown: "We expect Dain to make an immediate impact on our program. He's an explosive scorer, but he also has the ability to create shots for his teammates."

Boxing: Sean Rickards (Tarpon Springs '87) was seen on TV Wednesday night in a heavyweight match with former Miami Hurricane and Houston Oiler running back Alonzo Highsmith. Rickards knocked Highsmith down in the second round then lost on TKO in the third. In high school, Rickards lettered in track specializing in the long jump and triple jump.

Track: Shannon Robbins (Clearwater High) and Tasha Lee (East Lake) have been running well in area road races this summer. On Wednesday night at Taylor Park, Robbins, who ran cross country for Auburn, placed second among women in the Sunset Series 5K race. Her time was 19 minutes, 18 seconds. Lee, 22, was the first woman at the Bayshore Summer Series 5K at Al Lopez Park. Her time was 19:29. She is a former winner of the Pinellas County Athletic Association cross country championships.