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Pinellas clubs double fun

District 12's Seniors and Seminole's Juniors are both headed to Kentucky for the Southern Regionals.

Two years ago, Little League opened its doors to boys who wanted to play alongside girls on its softball teams. The decision sparked debate and raised questions.

How would all-girl teams fare against teams with boys?

Ask the 16- to 18-year-old girls who play for District 12. They ran into that dilemma at the state tournament.

"At first they were a little intimidated," District 12 coach Joe Jayne said. "I got them together and told them we have the pitching, defense and bats to beat them."

By game's end, the girls were the last ones standing. The team with players from all over Pinellas and Pasco counties won the state championship and advanced to this week's Southern Regional in Jeffersontown, Ky.

To do so, the girls had to beat a team with six boys on it. Tarpon Springs pitcher Ashleigh Hatcher recorded 11 strikeouts en route to a 6-2 state championship win.

This year is the third consecutive trip to the Southern Regionals for the District 12 Big League girls. The team is 16-1 and is following in the footsteps of last year's team which remained undefeated until it reached the World Series and finished fourth.

With 13 of the 15 girls primed to return next season, Jayne, who has been coaching for 24 years, said to expect this team to be good for a while.

Among the team leaders, Jayne called centerfielder Katherine Zody "unreal" because of how hard she plays.

He also pointed to Rebecca Stanzione, who has earned the nickname "Roadrunner" after displaying her speed on the base paths. In the state tournament, she pinch-ran five times and scored four runs.

Jayne said as long as District 12 doesn't run into its long-time nemesis, Virginia, the team should be all right.

"Hopefully the team does good because it is a good team," Jayne said.

Seminole Juniors

In the first year Little League created a junior division for 13- to 14-year-olds, the Seminole Junior Softball team from District 5 will represent Florida in the Southern Regional. The team will join the District 12 Big League group in Jeffersontown, Ky.

The team, composed primarily of Seminole freshmen-to-be, is 11-1 with its lone loss coming to rival Naples.

Seminole beat Vero Beach 8-0 to claim the state title and advance to the regional. Nicole Goff, a rising Seminole freshman, threw a complete game for the win.

First baseman Jackie Storm, who will also be a freshman at Seminole in the fall, summed up the team's secret to success.

"It's because of teamwork," Storm said. "We all worked together. We all know our own strengths and weaknesses. It's really great."

Joslin Crosby, one of Seminole's coaches, agreed with Storm's assessment. Crosby said that every player on the roster is as much of a threat offensively as the next person and that's what got the team this far.

The Big League and Junior Softball regional tournaments begin Monday.

DISTRICT 12

BIG LEAGUE

SOFTBALL ROSTER

Melissa Brumbaugh P/2B

Rebecka Calhoon 3B

Vanessa Farmer C/SS

Sarah Fisher C/2B/SS

Lauren Goldoni 3B

Ashleigh Hatcher P

Cheryl Kalajainen 1B

Bridget Murphy P/RF

Megan O'Connell LF

Kimberly Patterson 2B/SS

Tiffany Phillips C/SS

Rebecca Stanzione P/2B

Tricia Thibodeau OF

Tammy Zimmerman C/SS

Katherine Zody CF

SEMINOLE JUNIORS

SOFTBALL ROSTER

Meagan Bailey OF

Michele Bannister P/3B

Julie Beatty SS

Holly Cato OF

Emily Ekstrand P/2B

Kristin Geving OF

Nicole Goff P/2B/OF

Courtney Grzesikowski OF/1B

Lisa Hasson P/OF

Kyra Kasprzyk OF

Rachael Parovlek C

Jackie Storm 1B/3B

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