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At a glance: Baseball

By KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 16, 2003

Citrus

COACH: Jon Bolin, first year.

2002 RECORD: 12-16.

TOP RETURNEES: Luke Czerwinski, Sr., P-OF; Ross Keesling, Sr., C, Darrell Brooks, Sr., SS-P; Brendan Smith, Sr., OF; Matt Smith, Sr., 2B; Mike Wilburn, Sr., 3B; Chris Brown, Sr. 1B; Keith Zigler, Sr. LHP/OF.

TOP NEWCOMERS: Steve Strong, Jr. C; Matt Sacowicz, Jr. LHP; Casey Snyder, Jr., OF/P; Robert Taylor, Jr. 2B; Matt Peters, Jr., 1B; Matt McCollum, Jr., C/IF; Billy Mitchell, Jr., P/OF/1B; Rocco Durate, Jr., P; Trei Shinn, So., SS.

OUTLOOK: The 'Canes are a senior-laden team with a lot of potential, returning all-area honorable-mention picks Czerwinski, Keesling and Zigler. Citrus showed that Crystal River is not the only talented squad in Citrus County, beating the Pirates 7-6 during the preseason. Bolin, a former Florida State player, hopes to see his club become more aggressive, especially on the basepath. The pitching will be solidified by starters Czerwinski and Sacowicz, but Bolin is looking for a third starter. Brooks will be used in a relief role, but might have to step in.

QUOTABLE: "I see a little bit of timidness right now, and I need them to be more aggressive," Bolin said. "I don't think they're playing to their full potential because of that timidness. We can play through some aggressive mistakes."

Crystal River

COACH: Brent Hall, third year.

2002 RECORD: 30-4.

TOP RETURNEES: Zac Cole, Sr., P; Tim Embree, Sr., OF; Jonathan Runnels, Sr., SS; Drew Austin, Jr., IF; William Bunch, Sr., P-OF; E.J. Gerrits, Sr., 2B; Kevin Lanier, Sr., 3B; Dana Robbins, Sr., C-OF; Ryan Pearson, Jr., OF-P; Justin Duncan, Jr., OF; Lance Ives, Jr., OF.

TOP NEWCOMERS: Richard Covey, Jr. P; Norman Longfellow, Sr., P/C; Josh Hall, Sr. OF; Scott O'Steen, Sr., OF; RJ. Cummins, So. P; Josh Stanford, Jr. P-3B.

OUTLOOK: Fresh off a final four appearance and with 10 seniors on the roster, the Pirates are the team to beat region and state-wide. Many Crystal River returnees played on the Dixie Majors World Series qualifiers last summer. According to Hall, 5-7 seniors can play at the next level. Five all-area first-teamers have graduated, so the Pirates will be counting on newer members such as Austin and Pearson to carry the hitting load. With Tampa Catholic, P.K. Yonge and two Orlando schools on the schedule, the Pirates will be prepared for another state run. Crystal River should be ranked in the top two or three when the poll comes out, and the National High School Baseball Coaches Association has told Hall the Pirates will be among the top 50 nationally.

QUOTABLE: "I think our players have tremendous heart and focus, and they've set their goals high," Hall said. "We feel we've done everything we could except win that final game. That's our goal is to play a great season and give ourselves a chance at the end to get back."

Lecanto

COACH: Brian Donovan, second year.

2002 RECORD: 7-17.

TOP RETURNEES: Mike Bargiel, Sr., C; Ron Curtis, Sr., 1B-P; Brian Dawsy, Sr., OF; Justin Lofaro, Sr., P-IF; Jake McClelland, Sr., P-OF; Landon Baize, Sr., 2B.

TOP NEWCOMERS: Chadd Martin, Sr., OF,; Matt Glickenhaus, Jr., P; Benver Keene, Fr. P.

OUTLOOK: With Panthers returning and key position players coming in, Donovan looks for his team to be in every game. Lecanto's skills have greatly improved with summer, fall and winter ball. The Panthers lost pitcher Eric Stewart, an all-area honorable-mention selection, but have 5-6 players who can take the mound. A couple of new members will be in the lineup: Martin played for powerhouse Seminole two seasons ago and was the starting centerfielder last year. Glickenhaus is a transfer from Dunnellon.

QUOTABLE: "I'm trying to impress on them the winning attitude," Donovan said. "The kids that went out and played 100 games between the summer, the fall and the winter, they're ready to play."

Seven Rivers Christian

COACH: Jamie Richard, first year.

2002 RECORD: 1-14.

TOP RETURNEES: Jason Richardson, So., P-IF/C; Chad Peets, Fr., 2B; Cody Swain, Fr., OF.

TOP NEWCOMERS: Drew Donovan, 8th, 1B; Mike Baierlein, 8th, SS; Charlie Barclay, 8th, C.

OUTLOOK: The Warriors have all eighth-, ninth- and 10th-graders committing to the team, and Richard is excited about the eighth-grade talent. Because it's such a young program that hasn't had a lot of success, Seven Rivers is taking a two-year probation from district play. Only half of the 14-game schedule consists of varsity opponents. That allows the Warriors to compete against squads more on their level. Richard, who hopes to have the Warriors competitive in 2-3 years, will take over as Seven Rivers' athletic director the next school year.

QUOTABLE: "I'm seeing excitement from the kids knowing we can be competitive," Richard said.

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