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District's top seed motivates Lecanto

Lecanto is 4-12, but all isn't lost.

Despite their struggles, the Panthers have a chance to earn the top seed in Class 4A, District 7. At 2-1 in the district, Lecanto is tied for first with Central. Leesburg and Springstead are 1-2, respectively.

The Panthers play at Springstead tonight at 6:30. They beat the Eagles 4-3 three weeks ago.

"If we win this game, we're 3-1 with two games left and probably will finish no worse than second," first-year Lecanto coach Brian Donovan said.

SOLID STICK: The area's best pure hitter might be Crystal River first baseman Marcus Galvan.

The Central Florida Community College signee leads the county in batting (.577) and doubles (9) and is second with 27 RBIs.

His best stat? He has struck out only three times in 52 at-bats, an average of about once every five games. Not bad for a cleanup hitter.

MAKING THE CALL: In an effort to shake things up, Lecanto's Donovan called up three junior varsity players this week _ freshman shortstop Chris Hudak and sophomores Landon Baize, a second baseman, and Stephen Lequerre, an outfielder.

Each started in Tuesday's 4-0 loss to Hernando, a game in which the Panthers committed four errors and allowed four unearned runs.

"These three are going to contribute," Donovan said. "This isn't just to put pressure on other players. They're going to be in the lineup the rest of the year. I didn't bring them up to add more players to the bench who aren't contributing."

The pitching performance of junior George Englert was Lecanto's lone bright spot against Hernando. Englert (0-1, 0.00 ERA) tossed a complete-game five-hitter and struck out nine in his first start.

He, Dalton Meyers (0-2, 1.27) and Eric Stewart (3-2, 2.58) give the Panthers a formidable staff. However, the team is hitting .184 and has scored 7 runs in its past 3 games.

"We've got three guys that can give us some innings, but we can't steal first base," Donovan said.

BRIGHT SPOTS: Seven Rivers Christian is 0-6, but the Warriors have gotten solid play from senior infielder Steve Blake and eighth-grade pitcher Chad Peets, who coach Don Magee thinks will become a good one. Ten of Seven Rivers' 12 players are sophomores or younger.

RESPECT: Tampa Jesuit, Jacksonville Bolles and Key West, which are ranked ahead of No. 4 Crystal River in this week's Class 3A poll, have a combined 16 state titles. Key West leads all Florida programs with 10 championships. The Conchs' first crown came in 1953; the last in 1998.

FAST FACT: Citrus was beaten by Summerlin, 5-2, for the 1924 state title. The Hurricanes have not been back to the championship game.

_ KEITH NIEBUHR

Up next:NIGHT LIFE

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