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Hernando vents frustrations

It was hard for Hernando to sympathize with Springstead too much in a 14-4 victory Friday _ even while 15 consecutive Leopards reached safely after the second out in a 13-run fifth inning.

A 20-0 shellacking at Crystal River was just a week old in the 7-7 Leopards' memory. So was a 14-3 loss at Williston on Feb. 26.

"I know exactly how that feels," Hernando coach Tim Sims said. "(At Williston) we had one out and they had 10 straight hits. You make a good pitch and it finds a hole. You cannot get an out.

"You don't mind it swinging your way because we as coaches and as players have had it a little rough luck-wise at times."

Springstead coach Tracy Clark said his 5-9 team was "a little shell-shocked" but will "bounce back."

STARTING OVER: In those rough times, Sims never thought it possible, but the win over Springstead gave Hernando four straight victories and, in essence, a chance to start the season fresh. Not too bad an opportunity for young players who have struggled to mesh potential and approach.

"They're learning to play together, and that was lacking," Sims said. "We had the makeup of a bunch of talented individuals with different agendas.

"The Crystal River game was a definite soul-searcher. It's a daily battle for them as well as for the coaching staff to make sure we continue to coach and they continue to play."

DUNEDIN TOURNEY: Sims is looking forward to the start of the Dunedin Tournament on Saturday, specifically the Leopards' meeting with Palm Harbor University (5-9) at 8 p.m. at Carpenter Complex.

"This is the perfect team to take to play versus (PHU coach) Greg Nichols," Sims said. "I'm going to learn something and (the Leopards) are going to learn something watching Coach Nichols and how those guys play. That's why I like the Dunedin Tournament. We get to see them play four or five times."

BRIAN'S ON: Junior shortstop Brian Hoogewind had a massive week out of the second spot in the order, ripping a bases-clearing triple and double in two games against Springstead.

Three weeks behind much of the Leopards because he played on the Hernando basketball team, Hoogewind is leading all regulars with a .522 batting average. He apparently liked being made a starter March 12.

"He got his first start and has been absolutely red-hot at the plate and steady in the field," Sims said. "He's still learning some of the defensive calls."

ONE AT A TIME: Eighty-three of Hernando's 120 hits have been singles.

SLIDE: Springstead had lost six of its last seven entering a game with Gulf on Thursday night.

_ BRANT JAMES

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