Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Prep baseball: Palmetto's Collis off to SCF



Joe Collis, who has coached Palmetto's baseball team the last three years, said he has taken an assistant job with the State College of Florida.

Collis played at SCF, formerly known as Manatee Community College, in 1994-95, and was a member of the '94 state championship team that finished sixth at the JUCO World Series.

Palmetto athletic director Kenny Ansbro said the school hopes to have a new head coach in place prior to the start of summer workouts.

For more on this story, check out Wednesday's edition of The Bradenton Herald.

Prep baseball: Braden River to host a camp next week

The Pirate Summer Baseball Camp will run from Monday, June 13 to Thursday, June 16 at Braden River's high school baseball field.
Each session goes from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the camp is for players ages 6 through 14.
Members of Braden River's coaching staff, as well as current and former varsity players, will go over the fundamentals of hitting, pitching, fielding and baserunning. Baseball strategy such as situational hitting and team defense will be covered, as well.
The cost is $110 and campers are advised to bring their own lunch.
For more information, contact Pirates baseball coach Ryan Hilton at 224-9913 or at hiltonr@manateeschools.net.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Prep football: Chase Sandberg back at wide receiver

(photo by Grant Jefferies)

BRADENTON - Chase Sandberg is on the move.

A defensive back last year at Manatee, Sandberg, a rising senior, lined up at wide receiver during Friday's spring game against St. Petersburg Gibbs.

And that is where he will stay, said coach Joe Kinnan, especially since Sandberg underwent surgery on his left shoulder earlier in the year.

"It's bothering him, and I think it's going to (bother him) every time he hits," Kinnan said. "On offense, he's not going to have that problem."

Sandberg, whose younger brother, Cord, is Manatee's quarterback, has some experience at receiver, catching two passes during his freshman season and 10 when he was a sophomore in 2009.

He stayed on the defensive side of the ball last year, totaling 42 tackles and three interceptions as a safety.

For now, however, he is a receiver. And Kinnan believes the switch could help Sandberg's chances of playing at the next level.

"He's got a baseball future, too," Kinnan said. "But if he ends up playing college football, he's probably a better receiver than he is a defensive back."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Prep football: Kinnan commends Florida for handling of Blakely


Mike Blakely wouldn't be heading to Auburn without the consent of the University of Florida and its head coach, Will Muschamp.
For that, Manatee coach Joe Kinnan is thankful.
A former star running back at Manatee, Blakely is enrolled at Auburn after transferring from Florida earlier this month. Muschamp helped make it possible by allowing Blakely to sign on with another school in the Southeastern Conference.
"They have a class program," Kinnan said of Florida. "Their coaching staff did what was in Mike's best interests, and Mike should be very thankful."
Blakely, who did not respond to a phone call or text message Wednesday, chose Florida over Auburn when he verbally committed in October. But he took his lone official visit last fall to Auburn.
He also took an official visit to USF earlier this week.
For more on Blakely's story, check out Thursday's edition of The Bradenton Herald and bradenton.com.

Prep football: Blakely to Auburn, according to reports



According to numerous reports on the Internet, former Manatee High running back Mike Blakely has enrolled at Auburn University.

Auburn's Rivals.com website has an article entitled "Enrolled at AU" on its front page, along with a big picture of Blakely, who transferred out of the University of Florida earlier this month.

Jeffrey Lee, AuburnSports.com's publisher, wrote that Blakely enrolled at the school and began taking classes today, according to a source.

I called Blakely's cell phone this afternoon and left a message.

Though he took an official visit to USF last week, Blakely strongly considered Auburn before committing to the Gators last October.

"At one point, it was Auburn 90 (percent) to 10," Blakely said last fall. "I started to talking to all the coaches and weighing my options, looking at what was best for me. That's where I felt the best, at Florida."

Stay tuned to Prep Rally and bradenton.com for more on this breaking story.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Prep baseball: Eyre agrees to be Saint Stephen's pitching coach

(mlb.mlb.com)

Another former big-league pitcher is joining Saint Stephen's baseball coaching staff.

Bradenton resident Scott Eyre, who spent 13 seasons in the majors and won a World Series ring with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, will work as the Falcons' pitching coach under new head coach Scott Sauerbeck.

Eyre appeared in 617 games, mostly in relief, for the Chicago White Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants, Chicago Cubs and the Phillies. He led the majors with 86 apperances in '05 while with the Giants.

No stranger to postseason baseball, Eyre had a 1.32 in 24 postseason games, and was especially good in the World Series. He appeared in three Fall Classics, two with the Phillies and one with the Giants, and didn't allow an earned run in 5 1/3 innings.

Sauerbeck, who told of Eyre's hiring Tuesday, was Saint Stephen's pitching coach for three years. He was named the head coach Monday.

For more on Sauerbeck's story, check out Wednesday's edition of The Bradenton Herald.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Prep baseball: Former MLB pitcher Sauerbeck new coach at Saint Stephen's

(baseball-almanac.com)

Saint Stephen's announced Monday that Scott Sauerbeck has been hired as the school's new varsity baseball coach. He had served as the team's pitching coach the past three years.

Drafted by the New York Mets in 1994, Sauerbeck made his big-league debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1999. He was dealt from Pittsburgh to the Boston Red Sox in the summer of 2003, and pitched for Boston during that year's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees.

Sauerbeck spent seven seasons in the majors, posting a 20-17 record and 3.82 in 471 games, all in relief.

Aside from the Pirates and Red Sox, Sauerbeck also pitched with the Cleveland Indians and Oakland Athletics.

Prep sports: Lakewood Ranch wins academic team title



Lakewood Ranch won the overall academic team championship in Class 4A for the 2010-11 school year, the Florida High School Athletic Association announced Monday.

The Mustangs totaled 122 points to get past runner-up Gulf Breeze (103).

Points were awarded for high a school's total grade-point average was in each sport, with 10 points going to first place, nine points for second place, etc.

Lakewood Ranch will receive a plaque in the fall.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Prep sports: Your favorite prep moment of the 2010-11 season

(photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)

Now that Manatee's stirring run to the baseball state semifinals is over, so is the 2010- 11 prep season.

It was a good one. We saw a boys soccer team (Saint Stephen's), a softball team (Braden River) and a baseball team (the Canes) make the final four, while Manatee's Quinn Tibbetts wrestled for the Class 3A title at heavyweight.

Lakewood Ranch's Danny Walker won the Class 2A state golf title, and the Mustangs' girls cross country and distance relay team finished second in the state.

And let's not forget the football season. Manatee, which played its Kickoff Classic live on ESPN last August (crew members are setting up shop in the above photo snapped by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie), wrapped its first undefeated regular season since 1990 and made the Class 5A state semifinals for the fourth time in six years.

Southeast nearly joined the Canes, narrowly falling short in the Class 3A-Region 3 final, while Braden River and Palmetto made the playoffs under new head coaches.

What was your favorite moment of the 2010-11 season? Take a look at the poll on the right and pick one of the choices I provided. Or if you don't like my options, pick "other." And feel free to comment here or email me at jlembo@bradenton.com with other suggestions.

Also, keep reading bradenton.com in the coming weeks for our spring All-Area awards, and I will also be putting together my annual prep year in review.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Prep baseball: Lakeland falls in 5A final



A night after rallying to beat Manatee in a state semifinal, Lakeland was shackled during Saturday's state Class 5A state baseball championship game.

The Dreadnaughts lost 2-0 to West Boca Raton Community despite the best efforts of Tyler Howe. A night after tossing 2 1/3 perfect innings of relief against the Canes, Howe went six innings, allowing two runs - one earned - and five hits while striking out three and walking none.

But West Boca scored twice in the second inning, which was enough for pitcher Parker Danciu. The junior walked three, struck out two and allowed five hits.

It was an impressive tournament for the Bulls, who also shut out Pace in Friday's semifinal.

Lakeland defeated Manatee 7-6 on Friday.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Prep baseball: Canes' run is over, but...



PORT ST. LUCIE - Manatee's baseball season is over, with the Canes falling 7-6 to Lakeland during Friday's Class 5A state semifinal.

It was a memorable spring for Manatee, and stay tuned to Prep Rally and Bradenton.com to read more about it.

We'll have a game story online and in Saturday's paper, and a season-in-review of sorts Sunday, along with any other notes I can cobble together.

And check back on Prep Rally tomorrow for some of my observations from Port St. Lucie. Technical difficulties prevented me from blogging live from Digital Domain Park, so I have plenty to make up for.

Prep baseball: Canes state semifinal delayed




PORT ST.LUCIE - Inclement weather has pushed back the start of Manatee's state semifinal baseball game tonight.


The Hurricanes will face Lakeland in a Class 5A state semifinal at 6 p.m. at Digital Domain Park.


The game was originally scheduled for 5 p.m.




Prep baseball: Rain? Rain? Go away!


Well, so much for it being "hot and overcast," as I mentioned 20 minutes ago in my previous post.
As you can see by this picture I snapped from inside a hotel, it is raining here in Port St. Lucie, where Manatee and Lakeland will meet in a Class 5A state baseball semifinal tonight at 5.
This wasn't supposed to happen, according to weather.com, which called for sunny skies and temps in the high 80s. Then again, it isn't happening now, according to weather.com, which has current conditions in Port St. Lucie being "partly cloudy."
Uh...
Stay tuned to Prep Rally for any possible postponements or other weather-related snafus. It appears to be letting up, but it's late May in Florida...so you never really know what to expect.

Prep baseball: Manatee takes the field in less than five hours

(Manatee second baseman Mitchell Shreves takes grounders Thursday during a workout in Fort Pierce)

PORT ST. LUCIE - It's and hot and a little overcast here at Port St. Lucie, where in less than five hours, Manatee meets Lakeland in a Class 5A state semifinal at Digital Domain Park.
Manatee arrived Thursday afternoon and took batting practice for about an hour at a complex in Fort Pierce, located about 10 minutes away from Port St. Lucie.
In earlier action today, Maitland Orangewood Christian defeated Tampa Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate 5-4 in a Class 2A state semifinal.
The winner faces either Pace or West Boca Raton Community at 7:05 p.m. Saturday for the state title. Those two teams 8 p.m. tonight in the other Class 5A state semifinal.
To recap Manatee's stirring run to state, head to Bradenton. com and check out my stories from earlier this week.
I did a feature on Manatee coach Dwayne Strong, a profile on the Canes' band of seniors, a look back at the Manatee's 1963 state championship team, a column on Manatee's arrival and practice in Fort Pierce and a capsule breaking down today's game.



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Prep football: Kinnan happy with baseball team's run

(photo by John Lembo)



FORT PIERCE - Win or lose during this weekend's state baseball semifinals and finals, Manatee will have close to its full football team intact next week.



The football Hurricanes, who also won a regional title and a spot in the final four this past fall, have spent the spring without starters Cord Sandberg (stretching in the above picture during baseball practice Thursday in Fort Pierce), Chase Sandberg and Garrett Waiters.



Cord, a sophomore, accounted for more than 3,000 yards passing and running during his first varsity season as a quarterback; Chase, a junior, is a defensive back set to enter his fourth varsity season; and Waiters is an offensive lineman.



Yet football coach Joe Kinnan sees a positive in what the three have done for the baseball team, which plays Lakeland at 5 p.m. today in a state semifinal at Digital Domian Park in Port St. Lucie.



"This has been good for them," Kinnan said. "They're continuing to learn how to win, and that's big."



Kinnan said the baseball players will be thrown right into the fray when they return to practice next week, though they won't see as much time during Friday's home game St. Petersburg Gibbs as they would have had they had been there all spring.



"We've got other guys we want to take a look at," Kinnan said. "We know what (the baseball players) can do."



Kinnan, who is also Manatee's athletic director, had a hand in hiring baseball coach Dwayne Strong in 2007. And this was why Strong was brought on board, to get Manatee back in the state championship discussion.



"Absolutely," said Kinnan, who played baseball through ninth grade while he was at Manatee. "The last time we won a state championship (in 1963), I was a senior."

Prep baseball: Hurricanes take BP on arrival Thursday

(photo by John Lembo)

FORT PIERCE - Under the watchful eye of coach Dwayne Strong, pictured above, Manatee spent roughly an hour taking batting practice, shagging flies and fielding grounders Thursday at the Bob Gladwin Baseball Complex in Lawnwood.

The complex, which also includes a football stadium and tennis courts, is located about 10 miles from Port St. Lucie's Digital Domain Park, site of Friday's Class 5A state semifinal between the Hurricanes and Lakeland.

"I just wanted to stay in the routine that we've been doing...and we didn't want to miss a day swinging the bats," Strong said. "The other thing, I don't want to get stale in that hotel room."

The Hurricanes also planned on attending Thursday's Class 3A state final between Fort Myers Bishop Verot and Pensacola. Verot, which eliminated Southeast in a regional semifinal, won the state title with a 4-3 win.

Friday begins with breakfast at 8 a.m. followed by another trip to Digital Domain Park to watch of a few innings of the Class 2A semifinal between Maitland Orangewood Christian and Tampa Brooks-DeBartolo. That game begins at 10.

"Then we'll come back and have lunch," Strong said, "and get ready to go."

With assistant Danny Carter pitching from behind a screen, the Hurricanes batted in shifts. Meanwhile, assistant coach Richard Glass, who is documenting the trip on video, and Strong hit grounders to the Canes infielders.

"We can't stop talking about it, and we can't wait for (Friday)," said junior Correlle Prime, who is 9-1 on the mound and is batting .390.

A win Friday means Manatee plays for the state championship Saturday against either Pace or West Boca Community.

Getting to the final four is an accomplishment. That said, the Canes want to see it through.

"Don't get me wrong - we're not going to tied up in if we don't win (Friday) or we don't win Saturday, it's the end of the world, because this has been a great experience," Strong said. "But I can tell you one thing, if something happens, and we don't (win), it's going to hurt, because these guys put a lot of work in.

"But they're not going to let it take away from their experience, because they're enjoying this. This is awesome."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Prep sports: FHSAA unveils more district alingments

(fhsaa.org) The Florida High School Athletic Association released tentative alignments for tennis, track and field, wrestling and boys weightlifting Wednesday.
The alignments are for the 2011-12 and 2012-2013 school years.
Schools have until 5 p.m. Friday, May 27 to appeal their classifications.
The proposed districts are listed below with local teams in bold.

TENNIS
CLASS 4A-DISTRICT 8 - Manatee, North Port, Riverview, St. Petersburg, Seminole.
CLASS 3A-DISTRICT 12 - Bayshore, Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Palmetto, Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda Charlotte, Sarasota, Venice.
CLASS 2A-DISTRICT 11 - Southeast, Arcadia DeSoto, Booker, Cape Coral Mariner, Englewood Lemon Bay, Fort Myers Dunbar, Lehigh Acres Lehigh.
CLASS 1A-DISTRICT 9 - Bradenton Christian, Cardinal Mooney, Out-of-Door Academy, Saint Stephen's, Clearwater Central Catholic, Largo Indian Rocks Christian, St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut, St. Petersburg Catholic, St. Petersburg Northside Christian, St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep.

TRACK AND FIELD
CLASS 4A-DISTRICT 7 - Manatee, Lithia Newsome, Plant City Durant, North Port, Sarasota Riverview, Tampa Riverview.
CLASS 3A-DISTRICT 9 - Bayshore, Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Brandon, Dover Strawberry Crest, Tampa Chamberlain, Tampa Gaither, Tampa Leto, Tampa Sickles.
CLASS 3A-DISTRICT 11 - Palmetto, Cape Coral Island Coast, Charlotte, Estero, Fort Myers Cypress Lake, Port Charlotte, Venice.
CLASS 2A-DISTRICT 10 - Southeast, Arcadia DeSoto, Booker, Lehigh Acres Lehigh, Riverview Spoto, St. Petersburg Lakewood, Wauchula Hardee.
CLASS 1A-DISTRICT 10 - Cardinal Mooney, Out-of-Door Academy, Saint Stephen's, Fort Meade, St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut, St. Petersburg Catholic, St. Petersburg Keswick Christian, St. Petersburg Northside Christian, St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep (girls only), Sarasota Christian.
CLASS 1A-DISTRICT 11 - Bradenton Christian, Cape Coral Oasis (boys only), Fort Myers Canterbury, Fort Myers Southwest Florida Christian, Moore Haven, Naples Community School, Naples First Baptist, Naples St. John Neumann, Naples Seacrest Country Day.

WEIGHTLIFTING (BOYS)
CLASS 2A-DISTRICT 7 - Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Manatee, Palmetto, Charlotte, North Port, Port Charlotte, Riverview, Sarasota, Venice.
CLASS 1A-DISTRICT 8 - Bayshore, Cardinal Mooney, Southeast, Arcadia DeSoto, Auburndale, Avon Park, Booker, Englewood Lemon Bay, Frostproof, Kissimmee Poinciana, Lakeland Tenoroc, Lake Wales Vanguard, Lake Wales, Lake Placid, Wauchula Hardee.

WRESTLING
CLASS 3A-DISTRICT 8 - Manatee, Largo Pinellas Park, Naples Gulf Coast, North Port, Riverview, St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg Northeast, Sarasota.
CLASS 2A-DISTRICT 11 - Bayshore, Braden River, Lakewood Ranch, Palmetto, Cape Coral, Cape Coral Ida Baker, Cape Coral Island Coast, Cape Coral Mariner, Charlotte, Port Charlotte, Venice.
CLASS 1A-DISTRICT 11 - Saint Stephen's, Southeast, Booker, Cape Coral Oasis, Englewood Lemon Bay, Fort Myers Dunbar, Fort Myers Gateway Charter.

Prep football: Southeast's Poole named an All-America

(photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)Southeast defensive back Brian Poole has been named an Under Armour All-America, according to Corey Long, a college football recruiting writer with ESPN.com.
Poole will play in the Under Armour All-America Game, scheduled for early January at Tropicana Field.
"I think Brian is one of the top athletes in the nation, and he's also a fine young man," Long said. "He's a dynamic player on the field and we're very excited for him to have the opportunity to close out his high school football career in front of his family and friends."
Another Noles defensive back, Jonathan Dowling, was picked to play in the 2010 game. He recorded a pair of interceptions.
Poole will be a senior in the fall. He and the Seminoles host Venice at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 27 in a spring game.

Prep football: Blakely taking official visit to USF this weekend

(pagemoorephoto.com)
Mike Blakely is taking an official visit this weekend to USF, said Manatee coach Joe Kinnan.
Blakely, a former star running back at Manatee, took an informal visit Monday to USF.
Blakely committed to Florida in November and enrolled in January, but decided to leave Gainesville earlier this month.
USF was one of Blakely's many suitors while Blakely was in high school, but backed off when he said he wanted to play in the Southeastern Conference. Recruits are allowed five official visits, but Blakely took only one, to Auburn, while he was in high school.

Prep baseball: Sunny skies slated for Port St. Lucie

(weather.com)

The Weather Channel's website is forecasting clear weather for Port St. Lucie during this weekend's Class 5A state baseball semifinals and finals.
According to weather.com, Manatee will have sunny skies and temperatures topping out at 89 for its 5 p.m. state semifinal aganst Lakeland on Friday at Digital Domian Park.
The report is the same for Saturday, the day of the state final.
The winner of the Manatee-Lakeland game plays either Pace or West Boca Raton Community at 7:05 p.m. Saturday for the state title.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Prep baseball: Getting to know Lakeland

(c2c schools)

Lakeland may be known nationally for its football team, but it's the school baseball's team that's standing in Manatee's way of winning a state title.
The Dreadnaughts and Hurricanes head to the east coast of Florida to Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie for a state baseball semifinal slated for 5 p.m. Friday.
Lakeland is 26-4 and overcame the rain to win the Region 2 title Friday over Plant City Durant. The Dreadnaughts have won five state baseball titles, with the last one coming in 1959 when they were a Class 2A team.
Lakeland last made the final four in '08 as a Class 6A team. The Dreadnaughts lost the District 8 title game that year to Sarasota, but defeated St. Petersburg in the regional quarterfinals and exacted revenge on the Sailors in the semfinals.
The regional championship was decided in a best-of-three series back then, and Lakeland defeated West Orange 2-1. But the Dreadnaughts lost the state semifinal to Park Vitsa.
But back to the present: Here is a little info on this year's team.

HEAD COACH: Bob Gendron, second season at Lakeland, 44-9

OFFENSIVE LEADERS
HOME RUNS: Austin Barnett, 4.
RBIs: Erik Barber, 35.
AVERAGE: Erik Barber, .376.
HITS: Erik Barber and Kevin Wortman, 35.

PITCHING LEADERS
WINS: Brad Labozzetta, 10.
ERA: Brad Labozzetta, 0.70
STRIKEOUTS: Brad Labozzetta, 79.
INNINGS: Brad Labozzetta, 60 1/3

Prep baseball: Ranking the Class 5A final four

Two of the top 15 teams in the nation are in the hunt for the Class 5A state baseball title, according to MaxPreps.
Pace is ranked 10th and Lakeland is 15th in MaxPreps' latest Xcellent 50 National Baseball Rankings.
Pace faces West Boca Raton Community and Lakeland plays Manatee in Friday's Class 5A state semifinals at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie.
As for the Hurricanes, MaxPreps ranks them seventh overall in the state and third in Class 5A, behind Pace and Lakeland.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Prep baseball: Hurricanes to be honored by Marauders

(wikipedia)
One local baseball team will honor another Monday night at McKechnie Field.
The Bradenton Marauders will pay tribute to the Manatee Hurricanes, who are off to Port St. Lucie on Friday for the Class 5A final four, prior to the Marauders' game with the Clearwater Threshers.
The ceremony, which will feature all the Canes in uniform, will begin at 6:45.
Manatee faces Lakeland in a Class 5A state semifinal 5 p.m. Friday at Digital Domain Park.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Prep baseball: A primer on Digital Domain Park

(wikipedia)

Manatee's first crack at a state baseball title since 1963 will come Friday at Digital Domain Park in Port St. Lucie, where the Hurricanes face Lakeland in a Class 5A state semifinal.
Here is some info on the stadium, which has hosted the state baseball semifinals and finals since 2009.

CONSTRUCTED: 1988
CAPACITY: 7,160
DIMENSIONS: 338 ft. (left field); 410 (centerfield); 338 (right field).
WHO GOES THERE?: It's the spring home of the New York Mets. The high Single-A St. Lucie Mets, a Florida State League South Division foe of the Bradenton Marauders, have been there since the park opened. And the Gulf Coast League Mets played there from 1992-99 before returning in 2004.
MILES FROM MANATEE HIGH: 151.52, according to MapQuest.
MY NAME IS...: The park was originally named Thomas J. White Stadium before being called Tradition Field in 2004, according to Wikipedia. It was branded Digital Domain Park in March 2010.




Prep baseball: Manatee will face Lakeland in state semis



In a game that ended less than 20 minutes before midnight, Lakeland defeated Plant City Durant 4-2 in the Class 5A-Region 2 final at Joker Marchant Stadium on Friday.

The Dreadnaughts (26-4) will face Manatee next Friday in a Class 5A state semifinal at Port St. Lucie's Digital Domain Park, the spring home of the New York Mets.

Manatee defeated Largo Pinellas Park in the Region 3 final, beating the Patriots 12-6.

It is Manatee's first first state appearance since 1963, when the Canes won the Class 2A state title.

Orlando Pace and West Boca Raton Community will meet in the other Class 5A semifinal.

Times are be determined for both semifinals games, but the state championship game is slated for 7:05 p.m. Saturday.

Head to Prep Rally all throughout the week for notes, previews and more on the Class 5A state final four.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Prep baseball: How Pinellas Park got a lift from Major League Baseball

(photo from mlb.com)

Pinellas Park and Manatee will play Friday's Class 5A-Region 3 final on a pristine baseball field.

Major League Baseball wouldn't have it any other way.

The field at Pinellas Park High was picked to undergo a major renovation as part of the 2010 MLB Groundskeepers Conference, which took place in Clearwater Beach during January of that year. According to this release, the project took nine months to complete and involved groundskeepers from 22 big-league teams.

The renovation included the installation of warning tracks, irrigation and a wind screen, along with foul poles and a flagpole. Home plate and the pitcher's mound were rebuilt, and two mounds were installed in the bullpen.

"I asked for everything," Patriots coach Bill Ruttencutter told The Herald on Wednesday, "and I got about 95 percent."

The Baseball Tomorrow Fund, Phillies Charities and the Rays Baseball Foundation helped finance the project. MLB Groundskeepers, the Toro Company, Covermaster, Inc., and Turface Athletics were among the companies that donated materials, equipment and labor.

It's paid off for Pinellas Park, which will host the Hurricanes 7 p.m. Friday for the Region 3 title. The Patriots (13-14) have been home throughout the entire postseason and are in a regional championship game for the first time in Ruttencutter's 11-year tenure.

Prep basketball: Southeast's Reggie Smalls on 3A all-state team

(photo by Paul Videla)

Southeast's Reggie Smalls earned third-team honors on the Class 3A all-state team, which was unveiled Wednesday. The team is presented by the Orlando Sentinel and sourcehoops.com with input from newspapers around the state.

A senior guard, Smalls averaged 18.6 points per game this year for the Seminoles and was named the All-Area Player of the Year. He scored in double figures in 27 of 28 games and helped Southeast earn a trip to the Region 3 playoffs.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Prep basketball: BCS' DeKuiper headed to Calvin College

(photo by Paul Videla)
Bradenton Christian's Maria DeKuiper is taking her game to Calvin College, a Division III school in Grand Rapids, Mich, according to a release issued by Calvin's sports information director Jeff Febus.
DeKuiper earned All-Area Player of the Year honors this season after leading the Panthers in points (23.2) and rebounds (8.9) per game. She finished her career with 2,123 points, making her one of two girls in BCS history to score at least 2,000 points.
Calvin competes in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and won the league's regular-season and tournament titles last year with a record of 25-5. Calvin also advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament, and is 179-46 under coach John Ross, who has lead Calvin to six national tournaments and two Elite Eight appearances.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Prep football: Brian Poole makes Rivals100

(photo by Tiffany-Tompkins Condie)

Southeast junior defensive back Brian Poole is listed 75th on The Rivals100 2012 Prospect Ranking.

A four-star prospect, Poole has offers from over 30 schools, according to Rivals, including Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Miami.

Poole had three interceptions, four pass deflections and 40 tackles last year for the Seminoles. He also rushed for a team-best 925 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Poole will be in action Friday, May 27 when Southeast hosts Venice in a spring game.

Prep basketball: BCS' Magley makes Class 1A all-state team

(photo by grant jefferies)




Bradenton Christian senior Daniel Magley earned third-team honors on the Class 1A all-state boys basketball team, which was unveiled Monday. The team was put together by the Orlando Sentinel and sourcehoops.com with input from newspapers around the state.


The 6-foot-2 Magley averaged 19.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists in helping the Panthers, who got off to a 4-8 start, to the Region 2 final.


Magley leaves BCS as the program's all-time leader in assists (446), and is second all-time in points (1,647).


One all-state team will be released per day for the remainder of the week.


Prep baseball: Canes keep climbing MaxPreps' polls

(photo by Paul Videla)


The Hurricanes had plenty of reasons to celebrate during Saturday's 13-3 win over Tampa Gaither in a Class 5A-Region 3 semifinal, and have more reasons today thanks to MaxPreps.


The Canes, who head to Largo Pinellas Park on Friday for the Region 3 championship, are second in Class 5A and fourth overall according to the site's rankings, which were updated today.


Last week, the Hurricanes were fourth in the Class 5A and 11th overall.


Pace is ranked tops in 5A and third in the state, and plays Orange Park Fleming Island for the Region 1 title Friday.


MaxPreps also has Manatee 37th in the country after listing the Canes at 84th last week.










Sunday, May 8, 2011

Prep football: Plenty of locals make all-state team




(logo from floridahsfootball.com)




Better late than never, right?


On Friday, Floriodahsfootball.com released the all-state football teams for the 2010 season.


Listed below are the locals who made the list.




Class 5A


MANATEE


First team


Quenton Bundrage, sr., WR


Quinton Pompey, sr., DL


Second team


Cord Sandberg, so., QB


Drakkar Wilson, sr., DL


Darius White, jr., LB


Third team


Mike Blakely, sr., RB


Nick Galati, sr., OL


Clinton Heaven, jr., DB


Nick Tankersley, sr., P


Honorable mention


Prince Matt, sr., OL





Class 3A


SOUTHEAST


First team


Desmond Blue, sr., LB


Second team


Boe Brand, sr., WR


Cameron Cox, sr., OL


Tevin Williams, sr., LB


Brian Poole, jr., DB




Class 2B


CARDINAL MOONEY


Honorable mention


Alex Nugent, sr., utility




Class 1B


BRADENTON CHRISTIAN


First team


Austin Dumas, sr., K


SAINT STEPHEN'S


First team


Adam Vining, jr., WR

Friday, May 6, 2011

Prep baseball: Mustangs, Noles out; Canes-Gaither know their opponent

(logo from FHSAA.org)

Lakewood Ranch and Southeast fell during Friday's regional semifinal games, while the winner of today's game between Manatee and Tampa Gaither knows where it will be next week.

The Mustangs lost a heartbreaker, falling 9-7 to Tampa Jesuit in a 4A-Region 3 semifinal on a walk-off grand slam by Max Beerman. Jesuit scored six runs in the bottom of the seventh.

Lakewood Ranch finishes the season with a record of 24-7.

Down in Fort Myers, the Seminoles lost 7-3 to Bishop Verot in a 3A-Region 3 semifinal. Winners of their first district title in six years, the Noles end with a mark of 18-10.

Heavy rains pushed Manatee's game with Tampa Gaither to 1 p.m. today at G.T. Bray. The winner heads to Largo Pinellas Park next Friday for the Region 3 title game after the Patriots beat East Lake 2-0.

Pinellas Park is 13-14.

Prep baseball: Canes game postponed



Because of inclement weather, Manatee's Class 5A-Region 3 semifinal with host Tampa Gaither, scheduled for tonight, has been postponed.

The teams will play 1 p.m. Saturday at G.T. Bray.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Prep baseball: Regional semis today



Here are the pairings for today's regional semifinals. For an deeper look into these matchups, check out the capsules on bradenton.com or in Friday's edition of The Bradenton Herald.

All games begin at 7 p.m.


CLASS 5A-REGION 3

Tampa Gaither at Manatee

CLASS 4A-REGION 3

Lakewood Ranch at Tampa Jesuit

CLASS 3A-REGION 3

Southeast at Fort Myers Bishop Verot

Prep baseball: Where they rank

(from maxpreps.com)

All three Manatee County baseball teams playing in Friday's regional semifinals moved up in MaxPreps' state baseball rankings.

Manatee is ranked the highest in the overall rankings, going from No. 30 to No. 11 following its 15-5 win over Tampa King during Tuesday's Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinals. Ranked 84th in the nation and 4th in Class 5A by MaxPreps, the Canes host Tampa Gaither 7 p.m. Friday in a semifinal.

Not far from Manatee is Lakewood Ranch, ranked 16th overall in the state following its 3-0 win over Tampa Jefferson on Tuesday. MaxPreps ranks the Mustangs 2nd in Class 4A, a slot above Tampa Jesuit, which hosts Lakewood Ranch on Friday in a Region 3 semifinal.

The Mustangs are 116th in the national rankings.

Southeast moved into the top 100 to No. 96 in the state with Tuesday's 5-3 win over Cape Coral Island Coast. The Seminoles are 13th in the state in Class 3A, and head to Fort Myers on Friday to face Bishop Verot in a Region 3 semifinal.

Bishop Verot is ranked second in Class 3A, 11th overall in the state and 89th nationally by MaxPreps.

Prep volleyball: Cothron out at Saint Stephen's

(photo from saintstephens.org) Nancy Cothron has not been asked back to coach volleyball or teach physical education next year at Saint Stephen's.
Cothron has been a coach and a teacher at Saint Stephen's for 16 years and led the program to its first district title in October.
For more on this story, check out Friday's edition of The Bradenton Herald.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Prep football: Kicking camp coming to Manatee



(photos from prokicker.com)


Hawkins Stadium will play host to Prokicker.com's two-day kicking academy this weekend. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Washington Redskins kicker Graham Gano and Miami Dolphins punter Brandon Fields are scheduled to work the camp, which is open to all ages and includes tutorials in kicking, punting and long-snapping.

For more information, check out the camp's website.



Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Prep baseball: Regional semifinal matchups

(photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)

Zack Larson and the Lakewood Ranch Mustangs are one of three area baseball teams gearing up for Friday's regional semifinals.

Lakewood Ranch, behind the pitching of Seth McGarry, beat host Tampa Jefferson 3-0 during Tuesday's Class 4A-Region 3 quarterfinal. The Mustangs head to Tampa again Friday, this time to play Jesuit, which defeated Seminole Osceola on Tuesday.

Osceola beat Lakewood Ranch during last Friday's District 10 final.

In Class 5A, Manatee rolled past Tampa King, 15-5, in a Region 3 quarterfinal at G.T. Bray. The Hurricanes scored seven runs in the sixth to trigger the 10-run mercy rule.

The Canes stay home Friday to play Tampa Gaither, a 1-0 winner over Venice on Tuesday.

In Class 3A, Southeast defeated Cape Coral Island Coast 5-3. The Seminoles head south Friday to face Fort Myers Bishop Verot, which scored a 3-0 win over Cardinal Mooney.


The matchups:

CLASS 5A-REGION 3

Tampa Gaither at Manatee

CLASSS 4A-REGION 3

Lakewood Ranch at Tampa Jesuit

CLASS 3A-REGION 3

Southeast at Fort Myers Bishop Verot

Monday, May 2, 2011

Prep baseball: Regional quarterfinals Tuesday

(photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie)
Southeast baseball star Michael Suchy will be all smiles again tonight if his host Seminoles can get past Cape Coral Island Coast in a Class 3A-Region 3 quarterfinal at 7.
District champions for the first time since 2005, the Noles are one of six area teams in action tonight and one of three who are home.
Listed below are the matchups. All games are at 7 unless otherwise noted.

CLASS 5A-REGION 3
Who: Tampa King at Manatee
Up next: Winner faces either Venice or Tampa Gaither
Of note: This is a rematch of last year's quarterfinal, which King won 3-2 en route to a trip to the Class 5A final four...Manatee (19-8) rallied from a 5-0 deficit (against Gulf Coast) and a 3-0 deficit (against Venice) to claim its first district title since 2002...After allowing five runs in the third inning of a district semifinal, Canes pitcher Correlle Prime allowed one hit and three baserunners over his next five innings of work. Prime earned the win in the semifinal and picked up the save in the championship game...Junior Keon Barnum is batting .490 with five home runs and 25 RBIs for King (17-9) while posting a .662 on-base percentage and nine steals in 10 chances.

CLASS 4A-REGION 3
Who: Lakewood Ranch at Tampa Jefferson
Up next: Winner faces either Tampa Jesuit or Seminole Osceola
Of note: Yet another rematch for an area team, though this time, the Mustangs (23-6) are hoping for the same result after they scored an upset last spring in Hillsborough County...Ranch's Andrew McNett went 7-f0r-9 in the district tournament, reaching base in nine of 11 plate appearences...Sophomore Brett Hanewich had a strong district slate, too, striking out 10 and allowing five hits in seven innings. He earned the win in the quarterfinal against Bayshore and took the loss in relief during the championship agame againt Seminole Osceola...Jefferson (22-4) has received 33 RBIs in just 71 at-bats from Corbin Olmstead. The junior is also stellar on the mound, where he owns a 6-1 mark. He tossed a complete game against Jesuit in the District 9 final, striking out 12 and walking two.

CLASS 3A-REGION 3
Who: Cape Coral Island Coast at Southeast
Up next: Winner faces either Fort Myers Bishop Verot or Cardinal Mooney
Of note: The Seminoles (17-9) won their first district title in six years behind the pitching of Andy Ramirez, whose complete-game shutout last Thursday was enough to get Southeast past top-seeded Cardinal Mooney...Cameron Cox had a team-best 28 RBIs during the regular season, and his four home runs tied for the team lead with Michael Suchy and Matt Fenske...Joseph Muldoon led the team in hits (35) and batting (.432)...Island Coast (20-6) has seven players with at least 14 RBIs, including Kameron Gallinger, who leads the team in triples (four), runs (28) and hits (33).
Who: Cardinal Mooney at Fort Myers Bishop Verot
Up next: Winner faces either Cape Coral Island Coast or Southeast
Of note: The Cougars' loss to Southeast in the District 11 final was just their second in 13 games...Mooney (20-6) went undefeated through district play, earning the top seed, before losing to the Noles...Bishop Verot (25-4) is paced by Florida commit Dan Vogelbach, who has hit 14 home runs and driven in 42 runs in just 74 at-bats. Not surprisingly, Vogelbach has drawn a team-high 21 walks.

CLASS 2A-REGION 3
Who: Community School of Naples at Out-of-Door Academy
Up next: Winner faces either St. Petersburg Shorecrest Prep or Fort Myers Evangelical Christian
Of note: The Thunder (15-8) upset top-seeded Shorecrest to win the District 11 title...Danny Brown leads CSN (16-10) in batting (.435), hits (37), runs (27), home runs (three) and doubles (11).

CLASS 1A-REGION 2
Who: Bradenton Christian at Winter Haven All Saints' Academy
Up next: Winner faces either Seffner Christian or Lakeland Sonrise Academy
Of note: The Panthers (7-11) will look to rebound after falling to Seffner Christian in the District 8 final despite hits from Michal Ananciz and Johnny Prince...BCS was a regional semifinalist last season, when they were eliminated by All Saints...The Saints (11-11) won the District 7 title even though John Carpenter, the team's coach for 14 years, resigned prior to the start of the postseason.

Prep football: Canes' other quarterbacks to get some work

(pagemoorephoto.com)

If you're waiting to see Cord Sandberg run with a ball, check out G.T. Bray's outfield. That's where Sandberg will be for at least one more night, patrolling centerfield for a Manatee baseball team set to host Tampa King in Tuesday's Class 5A-Region 3 quarterfinal.
Sandberg, of course, has become known for his work on the football field, especially after he won All-Area Offensive Player of the Year honors last year as a sophomore.
So while their triggerman is batting leadoff, the football Hurricanes will make due without him, allowing guys such as Zach Hill and Brodrick Yancy to get a chance to play with the varsity team. Hill quarterbacked Manatee's JV team last year. Yancy, whose brother, Brett, is a varsity defensive back, was the freshman team's quarterback.
Each player went 7-1.
"They both did a great job for us," said Manatee coach Joe Kinnan. "This gives them a chance to bring them along as backups."
Running back Mike Blakely, wide receiver Quenton Bundrage and quarterback Reed Carter filled out the rest of the depth charter behind Sandberg last season. But Blakely and Bundrage were seniors, and Kinnan said Carter is focusing on baseball.
That means Hill, a sophomore, could possibly make the team as a backup while Yancy could take over Hill's spot running the JV team.

Prep football: Tigers scrimmaging every Saturday

Palmetto's spring game with Booker isn't scheduled until May 27. So with only 20 practices permitted to each team, coach Dave Marino said the Tigers will take every Wednesday off and use Saturday to scrimmage.
Aside from breaking up the monotony of the spring, the Saturday scrimmages will give parents a chance to their sons in action.
The first two scrimmages will be controlled, Marino said. But the Saturday before hosting the Tornadoes, the Tigers will play their Red and Black Game, complete with referees and team colors.
"That will give all of our kids a chance to put on our uniform," Marino said, "and give them motivation when they're going through the hard work."
Optimism is rippling throughout Tigers camp, especially after last season's run to the Class 4A playoffs. And of Palmetto's four regular-season losses, three came to teams who played for regional titles - Manatee, Punta Gorda Charlotte, and Southeast.
The Tigers' other loss came to Class 5A Riverview.
"It was really a statement to our kids about what they really accomplished last year," Marino said. "You look at our record, and 6-4, it doesn't really stand out. But what we did was amazing."

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Prep football poll: Which spring game has your attention?

(photo by Tiffany Tompkins-Condie) Prep Rally listed this year's spring football schedule April 25.
So now you tell us - what game are you looking forward to seeing?
Maybe it's Southeast and its ultra-talented defensive back, Brian Poole (pictured above), which hosts Venice. Or Manatee, fresh off its first perfect regular season since 1990, hosting St. Petersburg Gibbs.
Or how about Braden River and Palmetto, a pair of teams who rebounded in time to make the playoffs. The Pirates host Admiral Farragut and Palmetto welcomes Booker.
Head to Prep Rally and vote for your favorite spring game this season. All nine are listed, so choose whichever one you want. The poll is open until Friday, May 27, the date of the last area spring games.
And feel free to vote on Prep Rally's earlier poll, where we asked what team has the hardest schedule in 2011. This year's slate of games was announced April 1.

Prep sports: Random thoughts

(photo by Paul Videla)

Odds and ends from an interesting and exciting week of the prep baseball and softball playoff:


- Had Venice tied Thursday's Class 5A-District 10 baseball final, the Indians never would have seen Manatee ace Correlle Prime.

Instead, Prime pitched a scorless seventh inning to preserve the Canes' 6-5 win, giving Manatee its first district title since 2002. The save came two days after Prime threw a complete game against Naples Gulf Coast in a district semifinal.

Starting pitcher Scott Kelly gave way to Garrett Waiters in the fifth, who kept Venice at bay and allowed coach Dwayne Strong to go to his top arm.

"I didn't want (Prime) to go more than one. I was trying to get to the seventh," Strong said. "The only way I was going to throw him was if we had a lead. I wasn't going to send him out there if it was a tie game."

Manatee (19-8) hosts Tampa King at 7 p.m. Tuesday in a Region 3 quarterfinal at G.T. Bray.


- Having a rare first-round bye in the regional tournament may have been a bit of detriment to Bradenton Christian's softball team.

The Panthers, who did not have to play a quarterfinal, fell 8-2 to Winter All Saints Academy in Friday's Class 1A-Region 2 semifinal.

"I think maybe not having a game Tuesday hurt us," said coach Gene Brown.

BCS won the District 8 title April 21 and should have hosted a quarterfinal Tuesday. But because District 7 had just one team - All Saints - the Panthers received an automatic bump into the semifinal.

All Saints had to beat Hernando Christian, the District 8 runner-up, to reach Friday's game.

The long layoff may have sliced into BCS' momentum, especially in the wake of the district win, which came against a Hernando team that entered the day 25-0 while Brown was in the hospital recovering from emergency surgery on an intestine.

"I would have almost rather played Tuesday," said Brown, who was back coaching Friday. "But that's the way the ball bounces."

The Panthers finished the season 13-9.


- Braden River's softball team plays for a regional championship Tuesday at Naples Barron Collier. The Pirates softball, girls soccer, girls tennis and boys tennis teams have also played for regional titles, while Tevin Bryant (weightlifting) is the only athlete to win a state title for the school, which opened in 2005.


- Who and where are the area's baseball teams playing in Tuesday's regional openers? We have it here:

CLASS 5A-REGION 3

Tampa King at Manatee

CLASS 4A-REGION 3

Lakewood Ranch at Tampa Jefferson

CLASS 3A-REGION 3

Cape Coral Island Coast at Southeast

Cardinal Mooney at Fort Myers Bishop Verot

CLASS 2A-REGION 3

Community School of Naples at Out-of-Door Academy

CLASS 1A-REGION 2

Bradenton Christian at Winter Haven All Saints' Academy