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Wildcats share learning load

By TERRY JONES

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 23, 2002


TAMPA -- For most of the year, the under-14 Tampa Wildcats are a travel team without a home. During the school year, it travels from field to field or anywhere it can find an invitation to practice and prepare for perhaps two games a month.

TAMPA -- For most of the year, the under-14 Tampa Wildcats are a travel team without a home. During the school year, it travels from field to field or anywhere it can find an invitation to practice and prepare for perhaps two games a month.

But in the summer, the team practices Tuesday and Thursday nights at Roy Haynes Park and competes almost every weekend.

"We started the Wildcats organization in March last year," founder and coach Roland Prohenza said. "We wanted to give players a new look at travel ball. We take an approach to make sure the players are serious about softball, but we also want them to have fun while playing."

So far, the team has qualified for the International Softball Association National Championships, scheduled for late July in Georgia.

"When our 11 players and their parents go to long tournaments, it is like a family outing," Prohenza said. "We have several other tournaments before the nationals, but we are all looking forward to the ISA tournament."

Since the Wildcats have only 11 players, each one ends up playing 30 to 36 innings each tournament. The individual players are from Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. In order to keep everything in balance, Prohenza coaches each player to compete at two or three positions.

Haley Gorsyth, Lauren Prohenza and Stephanie Davies share duties in the Wildcats' pitching rotation. Gorsyth and Davies attend Northeast High in Pinellas County and Prohenza attends Tampa Catholic.

Davies also plays first base, Prohenza plays third, and all three fill in as outfielders.

Justine Perry, Jessie Martinieri and Mindy Alvarez share the duties behind the plate. Perry and Alvarez also help out at first base, Martinieri helps at third and all three can play the outfield.

Filling out the roster are Kayla Adams at second and outfield, Dani Piazzais at shortstop and second, Emily Shierhorn at first and in the outfield, and Monica Perry and Melissa Alvarado are so versatile they rotate at all positions except pitcher.

Prohenza says his team continues to improve at the plate and has a consistent defense. He says the offense is bolstered with overall team speed on the bases.

MUSTANGS WIN ASA TITLE: Because of rain in the Palm Beach area, the ASA Florida Championships were reduced from double to single elimination last weekend. Sudden death, wet fields and constant delays didn't deter the Tampa Mustangs under-18 team. The squad posted 12 runs and allowed three on the way to a 4-0 record and the ASA state (travel) title.

In the first game, Crystal Folwell recorded the 8-2 win over the Miami Pirates. Carly Griffin contributed a three-run triple. Chamberlain's Amanda Cody recorded the second win, a 2-1 decision over the Miami Wave. In the seventh, Kaycie Maines crossed the place to tie the score 1-1 and Missy Zick hit a deep single to center to bring Darlene Hollister in for the winning run.

Times All-County Player of the Year, Beth DiPietro, shut out Davie Power 1-0 in Game 3. Her triple brought Maines home for the only run. After a pitching duel with Tiffany Orr in the title game, DiPietro helped secure the championship with a 1-0 win over the Miami Mini Kanes. With a double to right-centerfield, Maines brought Griffin home for the only run. Orr is the ace for Indian River Community College. Her team won the Junior College National Championship last spring.

So far this summer, the Mustangs are 13-2 in tournament play and the team has qualified for the ASA and Pony national tournaments.

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