Advertisement
  1. Archive

NEVINS IN COMMAND

Somewhere, sitting in a drawer in her house, Pinellas Park sophomore pitcher Sara Nevins has collected 58 scholarship offers from Division I schools.

Fifty-eight.

That kind of attention is usually reserved for rare talents, or for pitchers, such as Nevins, who can generate speeds of more than 70 mph and are left-handed and, like she says, "can throw a fastball, changeup, curve, screw, rise, drop ... there's more, actually, I just don't have names for them all."

The 5-foot-11 Nevins, who had more than 200 strikeouts as a freshman, received her first offer at age 14 from Arizona and has gathered others from top programs such as UCLA and N.C. State since. She orally committed to USF on New Year's Eve.

"She throws harder than any girl I've ever seen," Pinellas Park coach Shane DeMartino said. "It's not just pitching, the girl's got a heck of a bat, too. I never DH for her."

Nevins is a big part of a resurgence that has Pinellas Park among the county's elite.

"No question she's the best pitcher in the county," St. Petersburg Catholic coach Tom Fabian said. "And she's got a good team around her."

Class 6A, District 7

Teams: Alonso, Countryside, Gaither, Mitchell, St. Petersburg, Sickles

Outlook: Countryside and Mitchell are top contenders, but defending champ Gaither looks to be the team to beat, at least early. Countryside will have to replace the heart of its lineup, 3-4-5 hitters and current collegiate players GiOnna DiSalvatore (UCLA), Alyssa Albritten (N.C. State) and Brooke Mitchell (Nova Southeastern).

Class 5A, District 9

Teams: Clearwater, Dunedin, East Lake, Largo, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, Tarpon Springs

Outlook: Figures to be a three-team race between PHU, East Lake and Pinellas Park with Tarpon Springs left on the outside. Pinellas Park could be in line for its first playoff appearance since 1988, the only time the Patriots have advanced beyond districts.

Class 5A, District 11

Teams: Boca Ciega, Dixie Hollins, Gibbs, Lakewood, Northeast, Osceola, Seminole

Outlook: Seminole and Northeast again figure to battle it out for the district crown, but Osceola could surprise. The Warriors are led by one of the county's top hitters in senior Kayla Shavers.

Class 3A, District 11

Teams: Berkeley Prep, Clearwater Central Catholic, Academy of the Holy Names, Lennard, St. Petersburg Catholic, Tampa Catholic

Outlook: Coach Tom Fabian believes SPC is a better hitting team than a year ago, but the Barons suffered major losses with five starters graduated, including Times pitcher of the year Deanna Henriott. "We're going to be pretty young for a couple of years," he said. With Holy Names also reeling from graduation, look for Tampa Catholic to rise to the top.

Class 2A, District 9

Teams: Bishop McLaughlin, Calvary Christian, Indian Rocks Christian, Tampa Prep

Outlook: Bishop McLaughlin and Calvary Christian move up from Class A and Indian Rocks and Tampa Prep switch from 2A-11 in a realigned 2A-9. Of these four, Calvary Christian was the only team to make the playoffs last year, the school's first. With ace Tabitha Bittel returning for her junior year, the Warriors are the favorite.

Class 2A, District 11

Teams: Keswick Christian, Northside Christian, St. Stephen's Episcopal, Shorecrest Prep

Outlook: Northside coach Steve Fisher has seven returning starters from a squad that advanced to the region semifinals. The Mustangs are led by senior catcher Courtney Kuntz and Fisher's daughter Kirstie, a junior shortstop who has played varsity since seventh grade. St. Stephen's appears to be Northside's main competitor.

Class A, District 11

Teams: Academy at the Lakes, Canterbury, Citrus Park Christian, Lakeside Christian, Oldsmar Christian

Outlook: Canterbury is led by three young right-handed pitchers in freshman newcomer Krissy Longstreet, and eighth-graders Jennifer Crosthwaite and Emily Winesette, who were integral in the team's run to the region finals. "We only graduated two; everybody else coming back," Canterbury coach Jody Moore said.

Five to watch

Desiree Baker, P, Sr., Countryside

Elbow and shoulder injuries have slowed her lately, but the third-team all-state selection is ready for the season opener.

Emily Crawford, P, So., Seminole

A first-team all-county pick last year and 12-game winner, Crawford is part of a strong class of county sophomore pitchers.

Macey Hall, C, Jr., Canterbury

A captain for Canterbury since she was a freshman, Hall, the Crusaders' No. 3 hitter, will split time this year at catcher and shortstop.

Kim Mazzapica, P, Sr., East Lake

One of East Lake's main cogs in its two-year playoff run, Mazzapica is signed to play at Ball State next year.

Maddie O'Brien, 2B, So., Palm Harbor University

O'Brien is touted as one of the county's best hitters and defensive players.

Top five teams

Countryside (24-6 last year)

The only county team to reach the state final four last year, the Cougars are seeking a 10th straight playoff appearance.

East Lake (18-8)

Countryside coach Kaylyn Bayly says the Eagles have "a ton of players," and senior Susan Jallo should be one of the county's toughest hitters.

Palm Harbor University (23-5)

The Hurricanes have won the past four district titles, and will try for five in a row in a loaded 5A-9 district.

Pinellas Park (13-7)

Senior first baseman Amanda Walters provides a dangerous bat, and with Nevins on the mound, the Patriots are a threat in every game.

Seminole (21-4)

Another in a line of strong county 5A schools, the Warhawks finally won a playoff game last season after five straight first-round exits.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement