By TERRY JONES
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 11, 2003
TAMPA -- A winning tradition has been part of the Cambridge program from the beginning nine years ago, when the school was Seminole Presbyterian.
In the first eight years, the Lancers won two state titles, eight district championships, four region championships and made it to the Class A final four four times.
Even with a new name and a young team, the Lancers are on track this season for a fifth final four and perhaps state title No.3.
Pitcher Kimberly Rolley is the only senior and there are no juniors. Most players are sophomores and freshmen, but there also is a sixth-grader and seventh-grader in the lineup.
So far, the Lancers are 13-2, and both losses came early in the season to larger schools.
"Occasionally I look at the youth of these girls and I am amazed at the maturity they have in playing most of the time," Cambridge coach Raymond Tapia said. "Then there are the times they slip back into their age-group activity and I have to realize they are so young."
Rolley is 9-2 with an ERA of 0.61 and 80 strikeouts in 59 innings. At the plate, she is hitting .394 with 13 RBIs.
Freshman Brittany Williams has a 1-0 record as a backup pitcher and closer. In eight innings, she has an ERA of 0.00 with 12 strikeouts. When not pitching, Williams plays shortstop. She also is hitting .500 with eight RBIs.
Although she has pitched one inning, seventh-grader Brooke Curtis fills out the pitching staff. She also hits .538 with three RBIs and plays rightfield.
Freshman Valarie Kessel is the Lancers' top hitter and leads the team with an average of .575 and 15 RBIs. She also is a power hitter, with nine doubles and a home run. Defensively, she alternates between shortstop and catcher.
Jessica Martinieri, Kendra Hurless and Brittany Costa hit .400 or better.
Martinieri has power and is consistent at the plate with an average of .432, and she has five doubles, a triple and eight RBIs.
Hurless hits .405 and has a home run, a triple and 10 RBIs. Costa bats .400.
Also hitting above .300 are Kayla Adams (.348) and Brittany Winford (.364).
"I am very happy with these girls this year," Tapia said. "They have the talent to make it to the final four again. However, no matter how they end up, I am proud of every one of them."
A CLOSE ONE: Riverview's 2-1 victory over Venice on Tuesday could not have been closer.
Neither team committed an error. Venice picked up six hits off Riverview senior pitcher Beth DiPietro and the Sharks had seven off sophomore right-hander Danielle Durham.
Durham yielded a pair of walks and DiPietro gave up one. The loss was Durham's first against eight wins and DiPietro improved to 13-3.
DiPietro even stayed on the mound with an injured shoulder.
"Of course Beth's 80 percent is better than 100 percent of most pitchers," pitching coach Ron Slater said.
The loss was costly to the Indians. Second baseman Margo Sinibaldi broke her left arm and will be out for the season.
"Margo is not only solid at second, but she is one of our best hitters," Venice coach Amy Kantor said.
During the game, Riverview took better advantage of its opportunities than Venice.
The Sharks stranded four runners in scoring position but the Indians left nine on base.
TIGHT DISTRICT: Bloomingdale, Riverview and Venice are locked in a tie for first in Class 6A, District 5 with three district losses each.
The Bulls host Venice on Saturday at 11:30a.m., in the final district game for Bloomingdale.
"Things keep changing in this district, and the sad thing is at least two of the state's top 10 for Class 6A will not make the region playoffs," Bloomingdale coach Mike Clamon said. "The winner of our game Saturday will probably be seeded first or second in the district tournament scheduled to start April28 at Riverview."
With six teams in the district, first and second seeds only have to win one game to move forward in postseason play.