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In the family: daughter

Christine Beck never considered taking it easy in her senior season

By STEVE LEE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 2, 2002

NEW PORT RICHEY -- Christine Beck knew where she was headed before the season began.

A scholarship to Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers in tow, the River Ridge pitcher/second baseman could have cruised through her senior season.

Why risk injury with four years of college softball in the future? For the pursuit of a state championship, that's why.

"I wasn't even thinking college," said Beck, who, along with teammate Adrienne Cicirello, signed in the offseason.

"We knew that this year, from the start, we had a good team," Beck said. "As far as college, we didn't even think about it."

Led by six returning seniors, the Knights won their first district championship and the first playoff games in school history. Three region victories earned River Ridge a berth in the state tournament and a 1-0, 10-inning thriller over Naples Barron Collier gave the Knights a shot at a state title.

For Beck, an admitted team leader, slacking off was never an option.

"Everyone pushed each other," Beck said. "When I see (shortstop) Stefanie Simon dive for a ball, I try harder.

"You're counting on 12 girls to push as hard as they can. That's the best part about (the playoff run).

As has been the case since Beck's sophomore season, she was counted on to play a dual role. But this year, she was not alone as the team's pitching ace.

Coming off a 17-win season as the Knights' primary pitcher, Beck was part of a 1-2 punch on the mound with East Lake transfer Kiki Von Holt.

Beck's 15 wins were one more than Von Holt's and both rotated on the mound until the final three games.

That's when coach Ernie Beck, Christine's father, called Von Holt's number in the region final and state semifinal so his daughter could pitch in the state final against Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas.

But a hand injury to third baseman Jill Hrovoski, who had been hit by a pitch in the state semifinal, forced a change of plans. With Hrovoski sidelined, Kelly Evers, who plays second base when Beck pitches, moved to third, Beck lined up at second and Von Holt took the mound again.

"We both cried," coach Beck said of informing his daughter 45 minutes before the final that she would not be pitching.

"Nobody would have questioned it. They would have said Christine deserved to pitch, but I had to do what was best for the team."

"I only cried because (he) was upset about it," Beck recalled. "I was definitely prepared to pitch. It was a big thing to pitch in that game, but it's a bigger thing that we got that far."

Playing second base, Beck helped keep the game scoreless with an unassisted double play in the sixth inning.

But St. Thomas Aquinas pulled off a successful suicide squeeze in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 1-0 win and the championship.

For all her success on the mound and in the infield, Beck's bat propelled the Knights into the state final. Her two-out single in the state semifinal brought home Stephanie Seaman for the game's lone run.

But Beck goes back to the team concept, saying teammates took turns coming up with game-winning hits or turnaround defensive plays.

"It wasn't like last year," Beck said. "I didn't have to carry the team."

No, she didn't. Still, her numbers were impressive.

Beck's 15 wins tied Ridgewood's Breanne Hill for the county lead and her 0.79 ERA was only bested by Von Holt's 0.71.

And batting third, she hit .405 while leading the county in hits (47), runs (36) and triples (6).

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