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Former Bear shines on, off court

By TEVE LEE
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 15, 2003

Jen Ales, who led Central to three consecutive district tennis titles, established two firsts as a Pasco-Hernando Community College freshman.

Ales became its first state finalist and first recipient of the Florida Community College Activities Association's Academic Scholar award.

"They both go hand-in-hand," said Ales, last season's Times All-Hernando/Citrus and Gulf Coast Athletic Conference player of the year. "Basically, I knew I had to excel in school to be (academically) eligible."

Playing for the No. 2 state singles title Saturday at Broward CC in Fort Lauderdale, Ales lost 6-1, 6-0 to Broward's Leigh Shelton.

Broward won the team title, and PHCC finished fifth.

"I wasn't expecting (to reach the final)," Ales said. "I was just going to go in and do my best."

Ales, a biology major planning for a career in medicine, carries a 3.75 grade point average, highest among the state's tennis players.

"She's not only a scholar-athlete, but a good player," PHCC coach Brent Wellman said. "She's just a class girl who takes care of business in and out of the classroom."

Ales, who went 9-5 in singles this season, will not return to PHCC. Last month, she accepted a scholarship worth about $15,000 to play at Akron (Ohio). Also at the state tournament, PHCC's Quinn Davidson reached the semifinals in No. 3 singles.

Two Conquistadors made the consolation singles final, Katherine Areco at No. 1 and Ruth Hutchens at No. 4.

CO-WINNERS: PHCC baseball players Shawn Barrett and Lee Cruz (Pasco) were named FCCAA honorable mentions Thursday. Barrett, named honorable mention for the second time this season, scattered six hits and struck out nine in an 11-1 victory against South Florida CC on March 31. In his next start, Barrett struck out nine and allowed nine hits in a 16-5 victory against over Polk CC.

A left-handed freshman from Indiana, Barrett (5-3) has a team-leading 69 strikeouts. He also is hitting .302 with four home runs and 20 RBIs as a switch-hitting designated hitter.

"Shawn is just a good overall athlete," PHCC coach Steve Winterling said. "I knew he could pitch, and he can swing a good stick from both sides."

Cruz, a freshman who leads the Conquistadors with a .380 average, hit .444 in four games during a season-high seven-game win streak.

The Conquistadors outscored the opposition 57-24 during that stretch, which topped a five-game win streak earlier this season.

PHCC's 16 runs and 20 hits against Polk CC were season highs. Matt Reed led PHCC with four hits, five RBIs and three runs scored. Orlando Rosales (Pasco), Dave Hancox (Ridgewood) and Robert Yero had three hits in that game. PHCC (21-19, 10-9 in the Suncoast Conference) is coming off back-to-back losses by the 10-run role. The Conquistadors lost to Polk CC 18-8 Friday and 11-0 on Saturday to St. Petersburg College.

Cruz is one of three PHCC players hitting above .300 against conference foes. The others are Rosales, .367 overall and .397 in the conference, and Yero, .363 overall and .328 in conference play.

"Conference play is really the gauge of your ballplayers, because it's crunch time and that's when you get to perform," Winterling said.

IN THEIR HANDS: PHCC's softball team controls its destiny with five conference games this week. The Conquistadors are 22-17-1, 5-5 in the conference.

PHCC is tied for second with Polk CC. Both trail Manatee CC (10-4).

PHCC plays a doubleheader against Manatee CC at Bradenton today, travels to Winter Haven on Wednesday for a makeup game against Polk CC and hosts St. Petersburg College in a Thursday doubleheader.

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