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Eva gives Hudson powerful offense

Hudson senior Kenny Eva leads the county with 15 hits and has four home runs.

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 21, 2003

The hottest hitter in the first month of the season is Hudson senior Kenny Eva, who leads the county with 15 hits and has four home runs, which is more than five other county teams have combined for this season.

"He's really on a tear, but he's just a really good hitter," said Cobras coach Jack Ledbetter, whose team is off to a 4-6 start but getting solid offense from an experienced lineup.

Eva's late homer last week against River Ridge allowed Hudson to win 9-8 in extra innings, but he hasn't been the only Cobra swinging the bat. Travis Simpson, a senior hitting cleanup, is close behind Eva with 14 hits, and Jimmy Clougher, Jared Lorentsen and Erik Burgan also have 10 or more, giving Hudson a dangerous lineup from top to bottom.

"I feel like we've underachieved so far," Ledbetter said. "We just win a couple, then lose a couple, with a lot of close ballgames where we can pick out the mistakes we made that hurt us. We haven't put together complete games out there yet."

Senior Bryan Strawser has been a workhorse on the mound, but the surprise pitching success has been sophomore Tommy Snow, whose 1.29 ERA was as impressive as the 16 innings he has thrown despite being the team's youngest player.

"He's been a very pleasant surprise," Ledbetter said. "He's pitched well every outing, and when we do intrasquad scrimmages, he's always pitched well. He's certainly emerged, and I wasn't expecting him to be the workhorse he's been."

SHINING EARLY: Among the bright spots in Wesley Chapel's 3-7 start is freshman Ken Statham, who leads the team with a .409 average and four RBIs. After going 1-for-10 in the Wildcats' first five games, he has a six-game hitting streak that has impressed coach Steve Mumaw.

"He came in with a load of talent and we tried to take it easy on him," said Mumaw, who has also gotten five pitching appearances from the right-hander.

Fielding woes have hurt the Wildcats, who still pulled off a big win against Hudson last week, and Mumaw is hoping his team can step up for an important district game at Pasco on Thursday.

"We went into this season with a lot higher expectations," he said. "We've played to those expectations at times, but we've also played to the previous year's expectations quite a few times. It's been up and down."

THE GOOD NEWS IS: Gulf is off to an 0-8 start, but the Bucs are doing it with a young lineup that includes freshman Brandon Decker, who is batting second and hitting .360 since an early promotion from the junior varsity. Sophomore Andy Medina, who bats leadoff, leads the county with nine steals to go with a team-best .370 average ... Zephyrhills is 2-6 but has three freshmen and four sophomores in the lineup. Freshman Spencer Bahr is leading off and playing centerfield, but the Bulldogs have struggled offensively. Junior ace Joe Duffau still is winless but struck out 11 against Mulberry and 13 against Pasco.

THIS AND THAT: Mitchell's dismissal of two players last week wasn't the only tight ship on the west side. Ridgewood coach Larry Beets booted senior Pat Potter off the team after just eight at-bats, showing a loyalty to team rules even at the expense of a player batting in the top third of the lineup. ... Land O'Lakes is off to a surprising start, led by senior Brandon Vari, whose gaudy .560 average has impressed coach Calvin Baisley. "He's been our most consistent hitter all along," Baisley said. "He's getting hits off everybody."

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