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Tampa in consideration for future host duties

Groups representing Tampa, Sarasota and Disney's Wide World of Sports have expressed interest in hosting the state baseball tournament in the future, a high-ranking member of the Florida High School Activities Association said Saturday.

The four-year joint contract between the Hillsborough County School Board and the New York Yankees with the FHSAA expires this year. The FHSAA's deadline to accept proposals is June 8, director of communications Jack Watford said.

The FHSAA will decide on a host Sept. 1.

The Yankees guaranteed $100,000 and offered use of their facilities to earn the bid in 1996.

This week's games at Legends Field drew a combined attendance of 16,836, a state record.

CLOSE TIES: Sarasota High, which failed in its bid for state title No. 8 this week, captured championships in 1957, '73, '87, '89, '93, '94 and '96. The 1973 title team was coached by Eddie Howell, the pitching coach under current Sailors coach Clyde Metcalf. Among those Howell coached was Metcalf, a 1971 graduate.

KING OF THE HILLS: Merritt Island had one final chance to overtake Zephyrhills for the state home run lead, but fell well short. The Mustangs went homerless in their final three games to finish with 60, the same total they hit in 1999 for the state record. Zephyrhills topped that with 63 this year.

YOUNG GUN: James Houser is the first freshman pitcher to play for Sarasota's varsity during Metcalf's 19 seasons. A 6-foot-4 lefty, he was promoted from the junior varsity late in the season after an injury sidelined No. 2 starter Justin Gee. Houser finished 3-1.

"I'd hate to see that guy in three years," Merritt Island coach Chuck Goldfarb said.

KNOCKED OUT: Five schools came to Tampa with a national ranking from at least one publication. Only Jacksonville Bishop, Baseball America's No. 2-ranked team, reached the finals and none went home with a state title.

The other four: Palm Beach Wellington (No. 3 by Baseball America), Zephyrhills (No. 8, Baseball America), Miami Gulliver Prep (No. 6, Student Sports magazine) and Davie Nova (No. 23, Student Sports).

TUBE TIME: A replay of Jesuit's 4-1 win against Bishop Kenny in the 4A final will be shown May 24 at 1 a.m. by Fox Sports Net.

_ KEITH NIEBUHR

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