Thursday, March 31, 2011

Prep baseball: Hurricanes looking to lock the top seed

The Manatee Hurricanes have their destiny in their hands.
Tuesday's 9-2 win over Port Charlotte upped the Canes' record to 12-3 overall and 5-0 in Class 5A-District 10. The only team in the district without two losses, Manatee can clinch the league's No. 1 seed with three district games remaining.
Why does this matter?
Similar to many districts, the 5A-10 tournament doesn't have a main site - home games are determined based on seeds. Winning the No. 1 seed gives Manatee homefield in not only the first round, but in the district championship game should the Canes get that far.
Manatee has made the Class 5A playoffs the past two seasons but hasn't won a district title since 2002. The Hurricanes came within a strike of doing so last season, but watched Venice rally for two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
"It's good to have that," Canes coach Dwayne Strong said. "But the biggest thing for me is we're getting better each day and each week. Hopefully, if we do that, we'll be where we need to be."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Prep baseball: Bayshore's Pope sent to Double-A

(photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie) Bayshore graduate Ryan Pope, a reliever in the New York Yankees organization, was reassigned to the team's Double-A affiliate in Trenton, N.J. last week, according to Wallace Matthews with ESPN New York. Pope made six appearances with the Yankees this spring, posting a 3.60 ERA in five innings. He allowed five hits and two earned runs, struck out five, walked none and hit a batter. He made his spring debut this year at McKechnie Field, where he tossed a perfect inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pope graduated from Bayshore in 2004 and was chosen by the Yankees in third round of the '07 draft. He was the first baseball player to be drafted out of the Savannah College of Art and Design. Pope spent all of last season in Trenton, posting 17 saves and a 4.20 ERA.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Prep baseball: Milledge making the roster?

(photo by phil velasquez, chicago tribune)

Lastings Milledge is heading east.
According to a story in Sunday's Chicago Tribune, Milledge will be on the Chicago White Sox roster - barring any last minute moves - when the team leaves Maryvale, Ariz. and opens the regular season Friday afternoon in Cleveland.
A Palmetto native and Lakewood Ranch High alum, Milledge appears to be the team's fourth outfielder behind Juan Pierre, Alex Rios and Carlos Quentin, the story reads.
Milledge is hitting .298 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 18 games this spring with the White Sox. Chicago has three more exhibition games remaining before heading to Cleveland.
Milledge was a non-roster invitee to White Sox camp this spring after he spent all of last season and the summer of 2009 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Milledge was the New York Mets' first pick of the '03 draft, and was traded by New York to the Washington Nationals in November 2007.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Prep football: Doubleheader heading to Hawkins Stadium

A year after playing out of state for the first time in program history, Manatee's football team is playing host to a similar event this fall.
The Hurricanes host Don Bosco Prep, a national powerhouse out of New Jersey, on Friday, Sept. 16. After that game winds down, another Jersey heavyweight, Bergen Catholic, will face either Tampa Plant or Cocoa.
Kickoff is tentatively slated for 6 p.m. for the first game and around 9:15 p.m. for the second one, said Hurricanes head coach Joe Kinnan.
"If you want to be nationally ranked, you've got to play teams outside the state," Kinnan said. "That's what it comes down to."
Halloy Boy Sports Marketing is running the event, and the plan for is for the four teams to meet again in New York City in 2012.
Manatee became acquainted with Halloy Boy last fall, when the Canes' opened the 2010 season during a four-game, one-day affair in Woodland Hills, Pa.
Kinnan said whatever money made this season will be rolled over to finance next year's doubleheader, meaning none of the teams involved will make or lose any money.
"But it will be a great experience for the kids," Kinnan said.
The Bosco Prep Ironmen went 12-0 last season - defeating Bergen Catholic to win their fifth straight state title - and have won 35 straight games. They finished the year ranked seventh in the USA Today Super 25 and sixth in the RivalsHigh top 100.
The Canes were ranked 32nd by Rivals.
Bergen Catholic went 10-2 last year, losing both games to Bosco, and finished 59th in Rivals' rankings.
Cocoa won the Class 2A state title and finished 29th last year, while Tampa Plant reached the Class 5A state final.
As for the Hurricanes, their schedule will be full of challenges. The Canes open the season in Olney, Md. against Our Lady of Good Counsel, ranked 83rd by Rivals. Then comes Riverview, Bosco and Southeast.
"We're going to have a muderous first four games," Kinnan said, adding this schedule may be the team's most difficult.
In Week 7, the Canes host Class 6A state semifinalist Cypress Bay.
"We're going to see a lot of new people on our schedule, people we haven't seen before," said Kinnan, whose Canes have reached the state semifinals in four of the past six seasons. "It's going to be exciting."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Prep wrestling: Doran won't wrestle in college

(photo by Paul Videla)

It's hard to imagine Alex Doran doing anything but wrestling.
But the Manatee senior has no plans to further his career in the sport at the collegiate level. Instead, he will major in pre-nursing next year at Florida Gulf Coast University, which does not offer wrestling.
"I just want to do something different," said Doran, who has been wrestling since he was 5.
He picked a heck of a way to go out - Doran broke Manatee's record for wins in a season (53) and a career (168) this year and finished third in the state in Class 3A at 140 pounds.
A four-time state qualifier, Doran never finished lower than fourth at the state meet, and became the first Hurricanes wrestler to win a state title as a fresman in 2008.
He was dominant at the local level, too, nabbing four county championships and winning all of his county tournament matches by either pin or technical fall.
Just because he isn't wrestling doesn't mean Doran will put the kibosh on athletics - he plans to play intramural basketball or beach volleyball alongside fellow Canes wrestler Ronny Whitt, who is also attending FGCU.
"We'll just have some fun," Doran said.

Prep baseball: Murphy coming to McKechnie?


Bradenton's J.R. Murphy made his professional debut two summers ago at Pirate City with the Gulf Coast Yankees.
If all goes according to plan, he may return to Bradenton this summer with another Yankees affiliate - the high Single-A team based in Tampa.
Tim Bontemps, who covers minor league baseball for the New York Post, said Murphy will most likely begin the season with the Yankees' low Single-A team in Charleston, but could get a bump to Tampa if he plays well.
That could result in a homecoming of sorts. The Tampa Yankees compete in the Florida State League, as do the Bradenton Marauders, the Pirates' affiliate set to begin season No. 2 at McKechnie Field.
Tampa visits Bradenton for a three-game series beginning July 22.
Murphy, a graduate of The Pendleton School who turns 20 in May, spent all of last season with Charleston, batting .255 with seven home runs and 54 RBI in 87 games. Baseball America ranked him the Yankees' 14th best prospect, according to Bontemps.
Murphy is part of a deep pool of Yankees catchers that includes Jesus Montero and Austin Romine, both of whom are competing for the major-league back-up job this spring.
In his report, Bontempts said Murphy's "bat is ahead of his defense" - he committed 11 errors in 53 games behind the plate last year, but threw out a respectable 23 percent of runners trying to steal - and he could possibly shift to third base or an outfield spot in the future.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Prep sports: Mustangs, Noles and Panthers in Sunshine Cup hunt

Lakewood Ranch, Southeast and Bradenton Christian are among the leaders in the Florida High School Athletic Association's Floyd E. Lay Sunshine Cup All-Sports Awards point standings following the winter sports season.
(Man, that's a mouthful, huh?)
The Mustangs are second in Class 4A with 406.5 points; Southeast is third in the Class 3A public division with 190 points; and Bradenton Christian is seventh in the Class 1A private division race with 153.5 points.
(Standings are listed below)
Points are awarded based on how each school's sport fared in state series competition, with the top 16 finishers earning points. Schools are awarded a five-point bonus for winning a district or regional title, and can have points deducted for unsportsmanlike conducts and ejections.

1. Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale), 501.5 points.
2. Lakewood Ranch, 406.5.
3. George Steinbrenner (Lutz), 366.5.
4. Belen Jesuit (Miami), 361.
5. Fort Myers, 349.5.
6. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville), 341.
7. Choctawhatchee, 322.
8. Jesuit (Tampa), 310.5.
9. Estero, 303.
10. Nature Coast (Brooksville), 300.

1. Rickards (Tallahassee), 203 points.
2. Atlantic (Port Orange), 197.
3. Southeast, 190.
4. Bay (Panama City), 159.
5. Cocoa Beach, 135.
6. Villages, 128
7. Cocoa, 126.
8. Ribault (Jacksonville), 125
9. Fort Meade, 121.
10. Jones (Orlando), 119.

1. Oak Hall (Gainesville), 325 points.
2. Warner Christian (South Daytona), 208.5.
3. Summit Christian (West Palm Beach), 197.
4. Windermere Prep, 177.5.
5. Rocky Bayou Christian (Niceville), 160.
6. Orlando Christian Prep, 158.
7. Bradenton Christian, 153.5.
8. Seffner Christian, 143.
9. Miami Christian, 135.
10. Grandview Prep (Boca Raton), 130.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Prep sports: Follow me on Twitter

(image from wikipedia)

Have a Twitter account?
If so, following Prep Rally will be much easier. Just follow me on Twitter, where I will provide links to not only my blogs, but most of my stories that run on
I can be found at JohnLembo1878.
Head there now to find my link to today's story on Pirates pitcher and broadcaster Steve Blass, who led the Pirates past the Baltimore Orioles in Game 7 of the 1971 World Series.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Prep baseball: Lots of locals on Classic's all-tourney team


The county's strong showing at last week's Sarasota Baseball Classic is evident in the all-tournament team, which was unveiled today.
Lakewood Ranch placed third in the Elite Bracket, while Manatee was third in the Premeir Bracket and Palmetto finished fourth. All three teams made each bracket's semifinal round.
Here are the local players who made each of the bracket's all-tournament teams:
Brett Hanewich, Lakewood Ranch
Seth McGarry, Lakewood Ranch
Zack Larson, Lakewood Ranch
Tyler Beeman, Manatee
Nick Nolting, Palmetto
Kevin Phillips, Cardinal Mooney
Correlle Prime, Manatee

Prep football: Palmetto alum Kitchell makes USF football team

Palmetto graduate Ian Kitchell, a student at USF Sarasota-Manatee, has made USF's football team as a kicker/punter after trying out as a walk-on.
Kitchell was kicking with the Sarasota Millonaires when Darren Gambrell, USFSM's student affairs coordinator, passed some of Kitchell's game film to the coaches in Tampa.
According to a news release from USFSM, Kitchell has signed up to take classes at USF's main campus in Tampa this spring.
Check out The Bradenton Herald this week for more of Kitchell's story.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Prep baseball: Final pairings for Sarasota Baseball Classic


There won't be a local champion at the Sarasota Baseball Classic after Lakewood Ranch, Manatee and Palmetto fell in the semifinals Wednesday.
But there will be baseball, as the tournament wraps today.
Here are the local pairings.

Lakewood Ranch vs. Sarasota at Sarasota, 5 p.m.
The Pendleton School vs. Fort Myers Bishop Verot at Ed Smith Complex, field 3, 5:15 p.m.

Manatee vs. Palmetto at Ed Smith Complex, field 1, 5:15 p.m.
Braden River vs. Dwyer at Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex, field 4, 5:15 p.m.
Cardinal Mooney vs. Punta Gorda Charlotte at Ed Smith Complex, field 1, 5:15 p.m.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Prep wrestling: Fulk headed to Gardner-Webb

(photo by Grant Jefferies)

BRADENTON - Manatee wrestler Travis Fulk is headed to Gardner-Webb University, said Manatee coach Andy Gugliemini.
Fulk won 35 matches this year and placed sixth in the state in Class 3A at 135 pounds, earning the first state medal of his career.
He will graduate with 157 wins.
Gardner-Webb is a Division I program located in Boiling Springs, N.C., meaning Fulk won't be too far from his older brother, Andrew, who wrestles at Duke.

Prep baseball: Wednesday's Sarasota Baseball Classic schedule

Lakewood Ranch, Manatee and Palmetto are in the running to win titles in the Sarasota Baseball Classic.
Listed below are the Wednesday's local pairings.

Championship semifinals
Lakewood Ranch vs. Naples Barron Collier at Sarasota High, 5 p.m.
Consolation bracket
The Pendleton School vs. Coral Springs at Riverview (Twin Lakes Park), 4 p.m.

Championship semifinals
Palmetto vs. Royal Palm Beach at Venice High, 5 p.m.
Manatee vs. Miami Sunset at Venice High, 7:30 p.m.
Consolation bracket
Braden River vs. Delray Beach American Heritage at Ed Smith Complex, field 3, 5:15 p.m.
Cardinal Mooney vs. Estero at Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex, field 1, 5:15 p.m.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Prep baseball: ...and the Mustangs make three.


SARASOTA - Lakewood Ranch became the lastest local team to advance at the Sarasota Baseball Classic on Tuesday.
The Mustangs needed just five innings to beat Fort Myers Bishop Verot, 11-1, to qualify for the semifinals of the Elite Bracket. They will face Naples Barron Collier on Wednesday at a site and time to be determined.
Manatee and Palmetto also won Tuesday, and will play in the semifinals Wednesday of the Premier Bracket.
Manatee meets Miami Sunset and Palmetto plays Royal Palm Beach.
Not a bad showing for Manatee County, which hasn't crowned a champion at the Sarasota Baseball Classic since the Hurricanes won in 2001.
This is the tournament's 26th season and the second time it has been split into two brackets.
Check back with Prep Rally later tonight for Wednesday's updated schedule, and check out Wednesday's edition of The Bradenton Herald for stories on today's games.

Prep baseball: Manatee, Palmetto moving on in Classic

SARASOTA - Manatee and Palmetto were winners again during the second day of the Sarasota Baseball Classic.
The Hurricanes defeated Estero 3-2 at the Buck O'Neil Complex, and the Tigers beat Punta Gorda Charlotte 4-2 at Venice High.
Each team is in the semifinals today of the Premeir Bracket. Manatee will face Miami Sunset, while the Tigers will play Royal Palm Beach.
The sites and times are to be determined, but tournament officials said the semifinal games will be played Wendesday at the same site.
In other action, Cardinal Mooney lost to Miami Sunset 6-3, and Braden River defeated Bozeman 16-2 in five innings during the first round of the Premeir Bracket's consolation bracket.
Lakewood Ranch is about to play Fort Myers Bishop Verot in the quarterfinals of the Elite Bracket here at the Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex.
Check out Wednesday's edition of The Bradenton Herald, as well as Prep Rally, for updates on how the locals are faring at the Sarasota Baseball Classic.

Prep baseball: Tuesday's Sarasota Baseball Classic schedule

(image from

Listed below is Tuesday's local schedule for the Sarasota Baseball Classic.

Lakewood Ranch vs. Fort Myers Bishop Verot, 7:45 p.m. at Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex, field 4
The Pendleton School vs. Venice, 7:30 p.m. at Venice

Manatee vs. Estero, 5:15 p.m. at Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex, field 3
Cardinal Mooney vs. Miami Sunset, 5:15 p.m. at Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex, field 4
Palmetto vs. Punta Gorda Charlotte, 5 p.m. at Venice

Braden River vs. Bozeman, 5:15 p.m. at Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex, field 1

Monday, March 14, 2011

Prep baseball: Tigers, Canes earn Classic wins

SARASOTA - Manatee and Palmetto are winners after the first day of the Sarasota Baseball Classic.
The Hurricanes defeated Dwyer 2-1, and Palmetto beat Royal Palm Beach 7-1.
Both advance to the second round of the Premier Bracket on Tuesday at sites and times to be determined.
Check out Tuesday's edition of The Bradenton Herald for stories on the games.
Alan Dell will have a story, too, on how Braden River and Lakewood Ranch fared.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Prep sports: Ranch's academics among tops in the state

This year marks the first time the Florida High School Athletic Association will name an overall academic team champion for each classification.
That bodes well for Lakewood Ranch, currently ranked first in Class 4A with 85 total points. It appears to be a two-school race - Naples Barron Collier is second with 82 points, but third-place Tampa Jesuit has 55.
A chunk of those points came this past winter, when Lakewood Ranch had some of the highest grade-point average in each of the season's sports.
They were sixth in boys basketball (3.178 GPA), third in girls basketball (3.515), sixth in boys soccer (3.378), fourth in girls soccer (3.591), fourth in wrestling (3.221) and sixth in girls weightlifting (3.416).
Lakewood Ranch also excelled on the field in those sports, as well. The boys soccer team advanced to its first regional final, the basketball teams and girls soccer team made the regional playoffs and wrestling and girls weightlifting sent qualifiers to the state tournament.
Points are awarded for how high each team ranks in grade-point average for each sport, with 10 points going to first place, nine for second, etc.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Prep baseball: Scouts come out for Palmetto's Goetzman

(photo from

BRADENTON - When Granden Goetzman comes to bat, out come the camcorders and stopwatches.
The guys in their hats and fleeces start scribbling in their notepads, reporting their findings to the folks back home.
Goetzman, a senior outfielder/shortstop at Palmetto, has drawn over 20 professional scouts to the Tigers' games this season. There were more than two dozen Thursday night at G.T. Bray, where Palmetto played Manatee.
Palmetto coach Joe Collis views it as nothing but a positive.
"It's actually great for any baseball player that steps on the field," he said. "Any player that steps on the field from both sides, and there are that many scouts here, it's their opportunity.
"All these scouts, they all know college coaches. So it's good for both sides - they're not just out here for one guy, and that's what guys need to understand."
Goetzman went 2-for-4 on Thursday, reaching on an infield single in the first inning before launching a tape-measure home run over the fence in left during the top of the seventh.
He signed with Florida Gulf Coast University in November, but is hoping to get drafted, too.
Scouts will get plenty of chances to see Goetzman play next week when Palmetto competes in the Sarasota Baseball Classic, which runs Monday through Thursday.
"We're used to it," Collis said of all the scouts. "It's nothing that's affecting us or slowing us down. It's something we deal with on an everyday basis."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Prep baseball: Pope enjoying life as a Yankee

(Photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)

TAMPA - Ryan Pope's locker at George M. Steinbrenner Field isn't too far away from a row that includes guys such as Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez.
It's quite common for him to see Hall-of-Famers Goose Gossage and Yogi Berra walking through the clubhouse, or to step outside the dugout and see David Wells throwing batting practice.
A 2004 Bayshore graduate, Pope was picked by the New York Yankees in the third round of the 2007 draft, and is spending the spring in big-league camp.
His goal this spring is to take another step toward making the big club. But Pope is also taking advantage of his surroundings.
"I come in, and I'm in one of the most prestigious locker rooms in all of baseball," he said prior to the Yankees game with the Pirates on Wednesday. "I'm just happy to come to work every day, and see the this group of guys.
"You see things that you never see anywhere else."
Pope said he has been treated well by the Yankees veterans, including closer Mariano Rivera, who tried teaching Pope his trademark cutter.
"I think he's the only guy who can throw that thing," Pope said. "He taught me how to throw, but I still haven't picked up on it...We have a quality locker room of guys. If you're a young guy, and you're willing to ask them a question, they are willing to help you."
Pope saved 17 games last year for the Yankees' Double-A affiliate in Trenton, N.J., and has made three appearances this spring, including one at McKechnie Field and another at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.
He has allowed no runs and a hit in three innings, walking none and striking out one.

Prep baseball: Sarasota Baseball Classic slated for next week


The Sarasota Baseball Classic tournament runs from Monday, March 14 to Thursday, March 17 at various sites around Sarasota County.
The tournament will be split into an Elite and Premier bracket, and will feature five area high schools, as well as the The Pendleton School.
Thirty-two teams overall will be competing in the Classic, which is celebrating its 26th anniversary.
Listed below are Monday's local first-round pairings.

Lakewood Ranch vs. West Boca, 5 p.m. at Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex, field 1
The Pendleton School vs. Coral Glades, 1 p.m., Riverview High School

Cardinal Mooney vs. Pembroke Pines, 2:30 p.m. at Sarasota High School
Manatee vs. Palm Beach Dwyer, 5 p.m. at Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex, field 2
Braden River. vs. Royal Palm Beach, 5 p.m. at Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex, field 3
Palmetto vs. Cypress Bay, 5 p.m. at Buck O'Neil Baseball Complex, field 4

Monday, March 7, 2011

Prep swimming: Intramural dive team hitting Manatee County

(photo from

Manatee County's first intramural dive team will have its first practice 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, at G.T. Bray. The team will be coached by Carl Springfels,a longtime diver and coach whose son, David, dives at Florida. David is an alum of Saint Stephen's.
Practices will be Monday and Wednesday and will last an hour. The cost is $45 a month or $5 for intermittent practice, and practices are open to everyone.
For more information, contact Carl Springfels at

Friday, March 4, 2011

Prep baseball: Milledge on the comeback trail

(photo by Ron Vesely, Getty Images, and used on

Does that freshly-trimmed guy look familiar?
It's Palmetto native and Lakewood Ranch graduate Lastings Milledge, one of the player's mentioned in this column by ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.
Crasnick lumps Milledge in with Jeff Francoeur and Jeremy Hermida as a once highly-touted prospect looking for a road back to the big leagues. Milledge, who spent all of last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, is in Arizona trying to win a job with the Chicago White Sox.
Despite getting into a brawl this winer while playing in the Venezuelan league, Milledge, according to the story, has taken some steps forward, and is lockering next to veteran outfielder Juan Pierre.
White Sox DH Adam Dunn, who also played with Millege in Washington, told Crasnick that Milledge is unlike his reputation.
"He's great," Dunn said. "But baseball is a game of reputations. Once you get one, you can't get rid of it. It's unfair, but that's how it is. He's not what you would expect or how you'd think he would be. Plus, he's just a little pup still."
The good news is if Milledge does latch on with the White Sox, he will get to have a homecoming of sorts when Chicago visits the Tampa Bay Rays for a four-game series beginning Monday, April 18.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Prep football: Falcons hire Creneti


Tod Creneti has been hired as the new football coach at St. Stephen's.
The former head coach at St. Petersburg Catholic and Melbourne Central Catholic, Creneti, a Parish resident, takes over for Stan Brown.
For more on this story, check out Friday's edition of The Bradenton Herald.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Prep baseball: Pope perfect for Yanks

(photo from

BRADENTON - Bayshore's Ryan Pope tossed a perfect inning of relief for the Yankees, who fell 2-0 to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday at McKechnie Field.
Check out Wednesday's edition of The Bradenton Herald to read about Pope's happy return home.

Prep baseball: Bayshore's Pope on McKechnie's mound

(photo from

BRADENTON - Bayshore alum Ryan Pope, now a pitcher in the New York Yankees' system, is on the mound at McKechnie Field this afternoon against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, Pope was taken by the Yanks in the third round of the 2007 draft and spent last season with the team's Double-A team in Trenton, N.J.
He started the eighth inning with Yankees trailing the Pirates, 2-0.

Prep baseball: Bayshore grad Pope joins Yanks at McKechnie

(photo from

BRADENTON - Bayshore alum Ryan Pope is in Bradenton today with the New York Yankees.
A right-handed reliever, Pope was picked by the Yankees in the third round of the 2007 draft. He played college baseball at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
Pope may pitch an inning in today's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field.