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Firestix name picked for pro softball team

A week after naming its manager and its first collegiate draft pick, Tampa's professional fastpitch women's softball team announced its nickname: the Tampa Bay Firestix.

Firestix reportedly comes from a Caloosa Indian word for Tampa. The logo features red flames flickering from a bat.

The six-team Women's Professional Fastpitch League opens its inaugural season May 30. In early June, softball's governing bodies vote on whether professional players will be allowed to compete in the Olympics.

As the rules stand, athletes who play in the WPF will lose amateur status and won't be eligible for the 2000 Olympics. That means many of the best players may not want to play in the WPF, including many of the 60 college seniors taken in last week's draft.

For instance, Tampa's top-two collegiate picks _ Furman catcher Julie Glasser and South Carolina outfielder Chanda Lee _ may have to make a very tough decision.

"They have professional athletes playing in other Olympic sports, and I think it would be a shame if they were to single out one sport," said WPF president Mitzi Swentzell, who was in Tampa for Wednesday's Firestix logo unveiling. "But we will go on no matter how the vote comes out, and I think we'll be fine."

The Firestix's first home game is June 3 at USF's Red McEwen Field. That kicks off a 3{-month, 72-game season.

The league _ with teams also in Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Durham, N.C., and Hampton Roads, Va. _ hopes to draw an average of about 1,500 fans at an average ticket price of $4.50, Swentzell said. Firestix tickets will be $7 for reserved seats and $5 for general admission. Season tickets are $195 for reserved seats and $160 for general admission.

A league tryout will be April 12-13 at the USF softball complex.

ORLANDO: The team announced its nickname will be the Wahoos.

The Wahoos open their season against Tampa Bay on May 30.

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