(ran PC edition)
Only one of five District 4 finalists from Dade City will compete in the Section 3 tournament today at Burks Park.
Last summer, Dade City sent three teams to sectionals with its major baseball team advancing to the semifinals before bowing out after a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Apopka in eight innings.
Now the majors are back for another try at a sectional championship. The team will face the winner of tonight's Apopka/Maitland game Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Dade City president Matt Edwards insists there is "no revenge factor" since just three players _ Geoffrey Parker, Zach Maggard and Jamie Cruz _ are returning all-stars.
The double-elimination tournament, which concludes July 28, includes teams from Pasco, Hillsborough and Polk counties. The winner advances to the state tournament.
District 13 senior softball champion Land O'Lakes is the only other Pasco representative.
Zephyrhills, which competes in District 4, hasn't sent a team to sectionals since 1997 when the senior baseball team reached the semifinals.
Among Dade City's four district runners-up were the 9-10 softball and junior baseball squads. Both lost twice in the finals to teams that advanced from the loser's bracket. Dade City's major softball and senior softball teams also lost in the finals.
"We wanted those two teams to come," Edwards said of the 9-10 softball and junior baseball squads. "We wanted three (Dade City teams in the sectionals), but it's good for the kids to learn and maybe dig down deep next year."
Cruz, who allowed five hits, struck out seven and walked three in Dade City's 3-1 win over Plant City American for the District 4 title, will start Saturday.
Manager Dale Maggard expects Cruz, his son, Zach, and Parker to be key contributors in the series. "They carried us through the district, truthfully," he said.
Cruz earned three victories and Parker one in the district playoffs while Zach Maggard led the team with a .500 batting average.
Although rain canceled Tuesday's practice, Dade City got two practices in this week.
"Other than working the pitchers, all we've been doing is hitting, hitting, hitting," he said.
Geoffrey Parker, Stephen Roe, Jamie Cruz, Zach Maggard, Kevin Freed, Aaron Brandt, Gerard Mathis, Thomas Harris, Andrew White, Julian Juarez, Dustin Brown and Josh Schofield.