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Crystal River sits alone at top of the class

As much as I hated report card day as a kid, I enjoy giving them out as an adult.

I guess it's the whole power trip thing.

Anyway, since we're at the midseason point of the 2002 baseball season, it seems like the perfect time to take out the magic marker, look over some notes and hand out some grades. Oh man, if my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Teefinbach, could see me now.

CRYSTAL RIVER: This one's easy. The Pirates (12-1 prior to Tuesday's game at Springstead) get a D. Just kidding.

In my book, these guys deserve an A. They've beaten the pulp out of every area team they've played, and their loss was to Jacksonville Trinity Christian, which moved up two spots to No. 4 in the Class 2A poll this week. Crystal River is fourth in 3A and, whether or not you think the Pirates deserve this lofty ranking, they have the area's most complete roster.

If area player-of-the-year honors were handed out now, Pirates ace Jimmy Metz would get the nod. One earned run in 28 innings? Are you kidding me? And, he's hitting over .500.

At the plate, shortstop Jonathan Runnels and catcher/pitcher Clayton Trenary get a lot of the pub, and deservedly so, but the kid I like is first baseman Marcus Galvan.

If I needed a hit and could pick one guy in the county to stick at the plate, it'd be him. Against Trinity Christian, which has an ERA that remembles Richard Simmons' post-diet weight in the 1980s, Galvan went 3-for-4. The previous night against Citrus, he slugged two doubles and just missed another.

As for Crystal River coach Brent Hall and his staff, we'll give them A's, too.

CITRUS: Before playing Central on Tuesday, the Hurricanes were 7-6. That's not terrible, but if you've been to any of their games lately, you've probably noticed the guys have run a lot of laps afterward.

Coach Mike Taylor thinks Citrus has potential and so do I, which is why they get a C+ for their efforts. It wouldn't be a shock to see Citrus reach the playoffs, but it will have to eliminate the mental mistakes and start hitting.

On the mound, Darrel Brooks, Luke Czerwinski and Justin Rogers have had their moments, but the 'Canes are batting .277, which doesn't cut it. Another problem: fielding.

LECANTO: You've got to love this team.

The Panthers have a .188 batting average, make more errors than the law allows and were 4-11 before Tuesday's game against Hernando.

I'm telling you, though, the Panthers are fun to watch. Because of that alone, they get a C.

Pitcher Eric Stewart (3-2, 2.50) is among the area's best, and outfielder Brian Dawsy has given Lecanto a spark at the plate and in the field. If first-year coach Brian Donovan can inject some punch into the lineup, the Panthers might sneak into the playoffs. Remember, their district isn't that great, so it could happen.

SEVEN RIVERS CHRISTIAN: The second-year Warriors started late and have played only a handful of games. In one outing, they made 16 errors. In another, they had 12.

For now, we'll give Seven Rivers an incomplete. Once the Warriors have played a few more games, I'll get back to you.

That's it. As usual, all grades are final. Unless, of course, you can arrange to have a shiny new Rolls show up in the teacher's driveway, in which case I'm sure we can negotiate something.