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Spring is here for baseball

The calendar reads otherwise, but don't tell the county's two college baseball coaches it is still winter. For them, spring and baseball practice are synonymous.

"It's nice," Pasco-Hernando Community College coach Steve Winterling said, adding that three weeks of practice before the Feb. 28 season opener at Florida College "really pushes you."

On the other side of the county, Saint Leo coach Ricky Ware said he "can't wait to get these guys together and rock and roll."

The Lions begin Feb. 1, hosting Webber International.

Both coaches plan on lots of conditioning and making sure their pitchers throw often.

For PHCC, the latter is vital. Under Winterling's watchful eyes are returning pitchers Randy Cseh, Josh Smithand Keith Zigler.

As for Saint Leo, Peter Martinez and Danny Hawkins are the top returning pitchers.

An early emphasis on pitching and fundamentals notwithstanding, Ware does not plan on having his players go off on long runs for conditioning. He intends to focus on sprints. "All you have to do is run 90 feet (between bases), so we're working on explosion," Ware said.

WELL DONE: As Ridgewood High seniors, Richard Jata and Tanner Wolfe combined for 61 goals and 159 points, helping the Rams win a county-best 17 games.

That former scoring tandem is no longer together, but both made immediate impacts as college freshman.

Jata led Furman (Greenville, S.C.) in scoring with four goals, 11 points and a team-high 25 shots on goal for the 6-10-1 Paladins.

At Stetson in DeLand, Wolfe finished sixth in team scoring with three goals and eight points. The Hatters went 10-6-1 and Wolfe made the All-Atlantic Sun Conference freshman team.

_ STEVE LEE, Times staff writer