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CCC GRAD'S TIME ON DIAMOND WELL SPENT

Published Jun. 17, 2007|Updated Jun. 18, 2007

A strong work ethic is playing a big role in the baseball success of John Petika (Clearwater Central Catholic/Central Florida CC).

"Nothing has ever come easy for me, so I've worked at everything," said Petika, 21. "It takes discipline and hard work, but it's paying off for me."

Following an impressive high school career where Petika excelled in baseball and football, he selected baseball as the sport to follow in college. Two years at Central Florida CC included a team-leading 44 RBIs on a .389 hitting average and a 4.11 ERA with four saves. His second year at the community college included a team MVP selection and being named all-Mid-Florida Conference.

Petika completed his junior season at Florida International last month, where he led the Golden Panthers in RBIs (55), was third in hits (75) and fourth in runs scored (34) and hitting average (.342). The first baseman also was team captain.

"Baseball has been a part of my life practically my entire life," Petika said. "I started with a whiffle ball bat that my dad gave me at a very young age. ...

"My dad has been a big influence and coached me my whole life. My mother has influenced and pushed me outside of baseball. Their support has been key."

Among Petika's baseball highlights, besides the pride he feels in being able to hit to the opposite field consistently, are a third-place finish in the Junior League World Series with Palm Harbor Little League, followed by a Senior League World Series title in 2001.

This summer, Petika is competing in the Great Lakes Collegiate League, a wooden-bat league in the Ohio area.

"This will give me more experience and keep me sharp," Petika said. "I think it's good to hit with the wooden bat, especially if you get in the majors, which I would definitely like to do. That's been a goal of mine for a long time."

Petika is playing with the Delaware Cows in the 11-team league in the Ohio-Indiana-Michigan area. Through three games, the Cows are 3-0 with Petika collecting a .214 average. Batting third, he has connected for a hit in each game, including a two-RBI triple and an RBI double.

MORE BASEBALL: Also competing in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League is Cameron Betourne (Clearwater/Vanderbilt). The left-hander posted a win for the Stark County Terriers and earned a 2.25 ERA.

- Stetson junior David Burns (St. Petersburg Catholic) collected his first win with Winter Springs in the Florida Collegiate League against Leesburg in a 10-inning game. Scoreless through nine, the left-hander allowed no runs in the final three innings.

- Savannah College of Arts and Design outfielder Casey Allen (Gibbs) contributed a two-RBI hit for Leesburg in a 9-1 win over Sanford in the Florida Collegiate League.

- St. Petersburg freshman pitcher Aaron Tullo (St. Petersburg) is playing summer ball for Winter Park in the Florida Collegiate League.

- Nick Massett (Pinellas Park/St. Petersburg JC) had his first start in Major League Baseball when he took on the Chicago Cubs last month. In just over five innings, the White Sox hurler gave up two runs on three hits.

- The New York Yankees called up right-hander Tyler Clippard (Palm Harbor University/Mitchell High) last month for a start against the Mets. In six innings, Clippard allowed one run and three hits in a 6-2 win. At the plate, Clippard recorded his first career hit, a double.

- University of Tampa's Nolan Brannon (St. Petersburg/Hillsborough CC) was named to the all-Sunshine State Conference second team as a designated hitter. The infielder averaged .368 at the plate and added 46 RBIs.

- Senior Scott Leffler (Dunedin/Lake City CC), a converted catcher, was 4-0 on the mound for UT with a 4.00 ERA.

- Freshman outfielder Brett McKean (Clearwater Central Catholic) averaged .375 in 12 games with the Spartans.

- Florida Southern's Ryan Koch (Osceola/St. Petersburg College) was named Sunshine State Conference Pitcher of the Week in April. The right-hander earned a 6-1 record and 3.97 ERA.

- Florida Southern catcher David Golliner (Northside Christian/Stetson) was named to the all-tournament squad in the NCAA South Region Tournament. On the season, Golliner averaged .328.

- In his first season with Florida Southern, infielder Wade Waybrant (Palm Harbor University) played in 10 games.

SOFTBALL: Sarah Kohlbrenner (Dunedin) was named first team All-American, her second while playing for Florida Southern. The senior outfielder averaged .383 and led the team in extra-base hits (22), home runs (four) and RBIs (49).

ROWING: In her first year at Radcliffe, Hannah Wallace (St. Petersburg) competed on the heavyweight crew team that placed third at the Eastern Sprints.

TRACK: Recent Georgia Tech graduate Ashlee Kidd (St. Petersburg) collected her eighth All-America honor at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships with a third-place finish in the 400-meter race.

- Oklahoma's Dermillo Wise (Lakewood) placed eighth at the NCAA Championships and earned the Sooners' first All-America selection in the long jump since 1988.

SWIMMING: At the Division II Championships, Drury freestyler Mitchell Snyder (Northeast) swam to a second-place finish in the 1,650 and 1,000 and was fifth in the 500 free.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 445-4119; e-mailed to namorgan@tampabay.rr.com; or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.

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