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County teams remember Buettner

By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 11, 2003

Tracy Clark never met Luke Buettner. But the outpouring from the west Hernando baseball family after the 24-year-old's death in a car accident March 12 convinced Clark he was someone special.

Members of Buettner's family and others will commemorate the former Springstead player tonight in a ceremony preceding the Springstead-Central game.

"He was a great character person, and he stood for a lot," said Clark, Springstead's coach. "It's the least we can do for the family."

As part of the ceremony, the Eagles will announce a character and leadership award to be presented annually in Buettner's name. A plaque will be displayed permanently at Springstead's field, Clark said.

"The main thing I heard was his passion for the game, and I can certainly relate," Clark said. "We wanted to continue what he stood for. People still talk about his moral value, how he was very ethical in the way he lived his life."

Buettner graduated from Springstead in 1996 and was a conference player of the year at Daytona Beach Community College. The catcher batted .395 and threw out 80 percent of runners on steal attempts his senior season with the Eagles.

UNBEATEN: Hernando senior Ryan Cook continues to excel, improving on a team-leading 4-0 record with a six-inning effort in a 6-3 win over Williston. Last week, Cook threw a complete-game six-hitter in a 5-0 victory over Citrus.

"Against Williston, he pitched us out of several jams, second and third and no out type jams," Leopards coach Tim Sims said. "He's done a very good job, stabilized our staff so to speak.'

Though Cook is undefeated with a 0.93 ERA, he has dominated without a dominating pitch. "He's a control pitcher and he's not going to overpower you, but he will pitch," Sims said. "He had come out of the pen several times and, when he did, his ERA was about 1.20. His performance out of the pen warranted a start, and he's taken advantage."

TESTED: Sims hopes a schedule filled with state-ranked opponents -- Crystal River is No. 11 in the latest Class 3A poll; and Jesuit, Pasco, Williston and Dunnellon were honorable mentions -- will harden his 9-12 team for the playoffs.

"Hopefully the scheduling will pay off," Sims said. "We'll also get some stiff tests from Land O'Lakes and Ridgewood. We have competition down the stretch, and frankly we've lost to people we should not have lost to. ... The best thing to say about this area, the three counties are wide open. The team that improves the most from the beginning to the end will make the (regional) playoffs."

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