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Town 'N Country Heather ready to defend title

Town 'N Country Heather defeated Pennsylvania 2-0 Friday, and stands firmly on the threshold of winning consecutive national women's soccer titles.

Town 'N Country will play for the under-20 title in Indianapolis at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday against the winner of the Massachusetts-Indiana semifinal played Friday.

"This team has proven it knows how to win and if we go out on Sunday and play hard, I think we'll have a good chance to win it again," Town 'N Country coach George Fotopoulos said. "We just need to keep playing hard."

Town 'N Country won last year's national 19-under title with basically the same team.

The main differences this season are the addition of Danielle Fotopoulos, George's wife who scored both goals on Friday, and the absence of former Clearwater Central Catholic and current North Carolina player Robin Confer, who is competing for the national under-20 team in Sweden's Nordic Cup.

Fotopoulos, who just missed playing on the United States Olympic squad, scored both of Friday's goals on one-on-one breakaways, but George Fotopoulos said the key was a point-blank stop by keeper Kasey Knect with 10 minutes left.

"If she doesn't make that great play then the game is tied and they have the momentum and who knows what might have happened after that?" Fotopoulos said of the former Leto and current keeper for Notre Dame, the defending national collegiate women's champions.

Town 'N Country, which played in front of more than 1,500 Friday, could face its toughest battle on Sunday if Indiana won its semifinal. A crowd of more than 5,000 is expected if Indiana is in the final.

Little League

Five Hillsborough County teams begin play in state Little League tournaments, and two will contend for championships at home.

The Bloomingdale seniors softball team earned a spot in today's state tournament at East Point Little League in Mango by beating Conway 8-3 Friday to win the Section 3 crown. Kayte Stanberry and Shawna Fletcher combined on pitching duties while Erin O'Brien broke open the close game with a bases-loaded triple in the seventh.

"The girls have a lot of heart," manager Eddie Perez said. "That's what has gotten them here."

The Citrus Park 9-10 softball team also will play at East Point. The Citrus Park girls reached the state tourney by winning Section 3, and has produced 10-run-rule victories in all but two of its games.

Although it fell behind 5-0 in the first inning of the Section 3 championship, Citrus Park rallied for a 15-5 victory over Conway Thursday.

One of the keys has been pitching of Cheryl Decker, Theresa Marotta and Krystal Crooks.

""We don't have any bigtime pitchers but they can pitch and throw strikes," Citrus Park manager Charlie Decker said.

Decker does not jest when he speaks of his group's team effort. Every player on the roster must play two innings and get one at-bat. The infield players are Marotta, Crooks, Nicole Forbes, Rachel Almengual, Brittany Beaudoin, Ashley Trent and Jomariah Medina.

Decker has played in the outfield along with Ashley Watson, Jamie Stephens, Torey Schaefer, Lauren Russell, Brittany Riebersal and Katie Jackson.

The South Brandon 9-10 baseball team will compete in Lake Helen, while the Tampa Bay majors softball team heads to West Palm.

The Citrus Park senior baseball team is also in a state tournament, beginning play in Dunedin.