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Tampa Catholic gets new coach

By SCOTT PURKS, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 11, 2002

TAMPA -- The new softball coach at Tampa Catholic is Darlene Lowery, a former player with a list of accomplishments a mile long.

TAMPA -- The new softball coach at Tampa Catholic is Darlene Lowery, a former player with a list of accomplishments a mile long.

She replaces Pete Wagner, who had a pretty good resume himself. He'd been TC's coach for 16 years and led the Crusaders to a state title in 1997.

TC athletic director Freddie Langiotti said the reason for the change was: "It was time to move in another direction. It wasn't that Pete was doing a bad job, it's just that we thought it was time to give the program some new life."

Wagner said, "I don't know what was wrong with the direction the program was going in. We had won five district titles in the past six years.

"After 16 years there, and then to just get shot down like that -- it's devastating. TC softball was a huge part of my life. When you put so much into something for so long, and then for this to happen, well, it hurts."

Lowery, meantime, is ready to put her energy and experience to use.

Her experience includes: Earning All-American honors three times as a pitcher at South Carolina (career 0.04 ERA), winning a silver medal with the 1983 U.S. national team at the Pan American Games, and pitching professionally for the Tampa Bay Firestix.

She also has a degree in sports medicine, is a certified personal trainer, a licensed massage therapist, runs softball clinics and gives private pitching lessons.

Riverview pitcher headed for Auburn

TAMPA -- Riverview senior pitcher Beth DiPietro, who led the Sharks to state titles in the 2000 and 2002 seasons, orally committed to play for Auburn on Sunday night.

DiPietro, a Class 6A all-state first team selection and Times Hillsborough County Player of the Year, said she wanted to make her college choice as early as possible. South Carolina and Virginia Tech were among her potential choices, and she looks forward to "a lot less stress" after making her decision.

"Auburn just seemed like a perfect fit," DiPietro said. "I liked the campus and liked the coaches. I didn't want to pass it up."

The Tigers went 38-27 (a school record for wins) last season, and won an at-large bid for their first NCAA regional tournament appearance in May.

Last season, DiPietro had a 27-4 record and a 0.34 ERA. She set a Hillsborough County record of 397 strikeouts in a season, striking out 28 in a March game against Gaither.

The Sharks defeated Orlando Boone 4-0 in the 6A state championship on May 10, making them the first county public school team to win two state softball titles.

-- Staff writer Emily Nipps contributed to this report.

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