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BASEBALL SEASON PREVIEW

(The Class 3A and 6A previews will run Saturday. The Class 5A preview will run Sunday. Coaches can e-mail their preseason prospectus to cotey@sptimes.com or fax it to (727) 893-8782).

CLASS A, DISTRICT 9

TEAMS: Calvary Christian, Cambridge, Canterbury, Citrus Park Christian, Oldsmar Christian.

OUTLOOK: Cambridge, led by freshman Jimmy Fallas - a starter as an eighth-grader - is the district favorite and should have no problems advancing to the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years. The Lancers beat Calvary Christian in the district final last year, but the Crusaders will have a tough trip back. Matt Brown, the county's batting and steals leader (.570 average, 33 steals) and top pitcher Nate Kmet transferred to Palm Haror University and Clearwater, respectively, and starting all-state catcher David Penn has graduated. That should leave the door open for Canterbury, which features an explosive offense and solid pitching. Brandon Hamilton (1.94 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 2005) is the No. 1 starter and batted .536, and brother John throws as well. John Giles (.351, 29 steals) and Mitchell Todd (28 steals) fuel the offense. Oldsmar Christian, under first-year coach Ceasar Riguetti, is led by junior pitcher Matt Mangru.

CLASS 2A, DISTRICT 11

TEAMS: Admiral Farragut, Indian Rocks Christian, Keswick Christian, Northside Christian, St. Stephen's Episcopal, Shorecrest Prep, Tampa Prep.

OUTLOOK: Shorecrest and Tampa Prep met for the district championship last year (the Chargers won) and don't be surprised if the two meet again - if St. Stephens doesn't get in the way. The Terrapins may have more holes to fill, having lost all-county picks Brad Buchman and J.P. Goldsberry. Shorecrest lost Ray Skortsky, but returns two-time all-state pick Anthony Katchuk, a Furman University signee. Katchuk (four HRs, seven wins, 2.01 ERA) heads up a potent offense, which includes honorable mention all-state pick Clay Burke (.345 BA, 20 RBIs) at catcher and SS Jeff Reynolds (team-best .362 BA). Robby Thigpen, son of former major-leaguer Bobby and a 2B/P, is expected to have a big season as well. Indian Rocks Christian was very young last year but is just young this year. Team MVP Josh Lyons (1B/P) is back, as well as C/1B/P Alexander Trent, 1B/P John Davis and OF/P Josh McLaughlin. Keswick, two years removed from a district championship, is moving up from Class A and lost four seniors. But 1B/P Blake Englehardt (.508 BA, three HRs, 22 RBIs), 3B/P Will Crispell (2.47 ERA) and C/2B Jed Mootsey (.419 BA, 25 SBs) give the Crusaders a strong nucleus. Admiral Farragut is coming off a 6-17 season and is looking for its first postseason appearance.

- JOHN C. COTEY, Times staff writer

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