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FireStix re-sign staff ace

The Tampa Bay FireStix have a new coach and a new general manager, but the Women's Professional Fastpitch team was able to hang on to pitcher DeeDee Weiman-Garcia for its second season.

Weiman-Garcia, a 1996 U.S. Olympic alternate and a former UCLA star, was one of the Fire-Stix's most steady _ and well-known _ players last season. She ranked among the league's best in 10 pitching categories, including wins (11), earned-run average (1.72), strikeouts (121) and innings (179).

Not only did Weiman-Garciare-sign with the FireStix last week, she signed a deal to be one of two full-time spokeswomen for the WPF. The other is U.S. Olympian Dot Richardson.

"I hope my passion for the game will inspire young girls to think about playing softball after college," Weiman-Garcia said. "We need more of that."

Weiman-Garcia will star in a television commercial for WPF and will make promotional appearances at clinics and other league-sponsored events.

The FireStix open May 29 against the Orlando Wahoos at Red McEwen Field on the South Florida campus. The team is led by coach Lisa Bassi, who also coaches Fullerton (Calif.) College. General manager Tom Lindemuth also recently joined the team.

USF GOLFER ADVANCES: USF freshman Kelly Lagedrost, a 1997 state champion at Hernando High, earned a berth in this week's NCAA East Regional. The Bulls fell one ranking shy of qualifying as a team.

Along with the eight teams from the South District, three individuals are selected from teams that do not qualify. Among the three, Lagedrost is the top seed. If she finishes in the top two she will qualify for the NCAA Championships.

Lagedrost was one of just two Bulls who played in all 27 rounds for USF this season. She averaged a team-best 76.2 strokes.

GET CHECKED: Olympic gold medalist Gail Devers will be at the Tampa Bay Center from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday offering free checkups for thyroid disease. Devers, whose Graves' disease nearly crippled her as she was peaking in her track career, spends much of the year traveling the country and helping people get checked for similar diseases.

CHECK IT OUT: The Female Athlete Inc. recently launched a catalog featuring gear and apparel for young women. The catalog, which specializes in hard-to-find, gender-specific sporting goods (such as softball helmets with ponytail holes in the back), was born when co-founders Mary Tenety and Lori Schmid grew weary of searching for similar items for their daughters. To receive the catalog, call (888) 316-5882.