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Games to Watch

Palm Harbor U. at Countryside

WHEN: Tuesday, 4 p.m.

OUTLOOK: Fans who venture to the Cougars' new home field off Sabal Springs Drive (Misty Springs Park) could really get their money's worth. Countryside coach Kaylyn Bayly said a decision is imminent on when to reschedule the eight-inning game the rivals played last month prior to being called for darkness. One option is finishing that game Tuesday, then starting the next game immediately. Then again, that could be a bad idea when the teams play another extra-inning stalemate. Bayly's looking forward to another shot, calling the last game "a most awful display of hitting." Hurricanes sophomore Dani Hofer shut down the Cougars bats last time. Coach Chuck Poetter could pitch her or senior Jessica Brinkman.

The Super Seven

1. Countryside (8-1) _ Must get used to the Softball Extra not including Kattrina Dowd's .500 batting average.

2. Palm Harbor U. (7-2) _ Like Countryside, lost to Class 2A champion Orlando Lake Highland Prep.

3. Northeast (4-0) _ Convincing 5-1 win over Seminole last month set tone for start of season.

4. St. Petersburg Catholic (11-1) _ Has played half its district schedule already, going 3-0.

5. Seminole (4-1) _ Needed two runs in seventh inning to escape Tuesday at Gibbs.

6. East Lake (4-3) _ Ally May is one of area's better pitchers, but it is tough to stand out in north county.

7. Northside Chr. (5-2) _ Appears capable of holding No. 2 spot among private schools.

Small Steps

Meghan Kimsey said she could not watch, the suspense was too great.

"Oh my God, we almost choked," she said.

This wasn't exactly the district final, instead just another lazy March afternoon. But at Clearwater Central Catholic there has not been much to celebrate on the softball field lately, so when a 5-4 win over Keswick Christian was sealed on a bases-loaded, unassisted double play by Aimee Gartland, the celebration was on.

The Marauders did not choke. Instead, they won their first game in nearly two years.

Scratch off that short-term goal from the new coach's list. Kimsey said the plan now is to continue to improve CCC's program, which had been slipping in recent years and bottomed out last season with a winless campaign.

Kimsey, a registered nurse who works at Mease Countryside Hospital, worked as an assistant coach at Dunedin and always imagined coaching CCC when her daughter, Mallory, started high school.

The coach will settle for baby steps first, such as a first-inning run Tuesday against SPC. The Marauders lost 13-3, but the point was made.

"We want them to know it isn't going to be a joke anymore," Meghan Kimsey said. "We want to keep getting better every game."

_ Compiled by John Schwarb.

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