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Northside dominates All-Star tourneys

(ran NTP edition)

Some Little League communities are fortunate enough to capture a district crown at All-Star time. Every so often, an area gets to boast about more than one championship team.

It may take awhile to quiet the Northside Little League All-Stars.

Four of their nine teams won District 6 crowns, and three advanced to this weekend's sectionals in Lakeland. Northside's four district winners _ Major Baseball, Junior Baseball, Senior Softball and Big League Softball _ are the most ever in a single season in the league's 19-year history.

"We've always been one of the top programs," league president Mike Self said. "This year has been especially good for us."

MAJORS BASEBALL: You can't get much closer than a one-run win in the championship game, but that's how Northside won its second straight district title, edging Palma Ceia 6-5.

Palma Ceia had beaten Northside in the past two Minors All-Star title games, and several players from both leagues played in those contests.

"It was a sweet victory," Northside manager Bill Lathem said. "I don't think there was any pressure, per se. They were real excited because most of these kids have been playing together for a long time."

Pinch-runner Matt Averill raced home from third base on a wild pitch with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning for the game-winner. Steve Faedo singled and Averill stole second and moved to third on a passed ball.

Leftfielder Sean Paul Fisher had a key defensive play when he backed up a wild throw with a Palma Ceia baserunner on third in the fifth.

"He's probably the unsung hero in that game," Lathem said of Fisher. "He did what he's supposed to do."

Pitcher Seth Weinberg earned two of Northside's four wins in the series. Pitchers Nick Peterson and Mike Rehfus each had a victory.

JUNIORS BASEBALL: Palma Ceia was the victim in this division as well. Northside won the title contest 8-1 behind Matt Faedo's two-hitter. Faedo also threw a no-hitter in Northside's 3-0 shutout of Tampa Bay in the second game.

Northside went 4-0 in the tournament. Jeff Baisley pitched a two-hitter in a 7-1 defeat of the defending champion Yellowjackets, and Michael Stewart picked up a win in relief when Northside nipped the Yellowjackets 10-9.

Northside turned two double plays against Palma Ceia, and third baseman Matt Lukevics took away the bunt by charging the ball and throwing out several batters.

SENIORS SOFTBALL: It may not be probable to advance from the loser's bracket, but it is possible. Northside lost the opening game to Palma Ceia, 6-4, before making a run to the championship game. Once there, Northside posted a 9-0 shutout win over Bayshore.

BIG LEAGUE SOFTBALL: There was no district playoff in this division, but Northside beat Bayshore 2-1 in the final regular-season game to cap a perfect 10-0 season.

"We had great ballplayers," manager Mike Fernandez said, alluding to such All-State players as Gina Krueger, Missy Pearson, Chris Reidy, Diane Sanchez, Kim Boyle and Meghan Crow.

Unfortunately, the team will not compete in the sectionals since most of the players opted to play for a traveling softball all-star squad this summer.

DISTRICT 13: The Junior All-Stars from Lutz defeated South Brandon 6-4 to earn a berth in this weekend's Section III tournament at Lakeland.

Winning pitcher Wayne Hedden tossed a three-hitter, struck out nine and walked six in the district championship game at Belmont Heights.

Hedden, named his team's most valuable player, went 2-1 in the series and batted .400.

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