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Whole new Seminole, same result

Published May 28, 2004

SEMINOLE - There are similarities between the 2001 Seminole baseball team that won a state championship and the one that takes the field at 1 p.m. today in the Class 5A state semifinals.

Just not many.

Only one player is still around, catcher Rick Nolan, who in 2001 served as the bullpen catcher.

Both teams lost their best pitcher during the season.

And ... well, that's about it.

"It's totally different," Nolan said.

Remarkably different, really, considering it has been just three seasons. But when the Warhawks (26-4) take on Jacksonville Wolfson (25-4) at Legends Field in Tampa, coach Scott Miller will not lead a team of All-Americans and future major-leaguers onto the field, but a group of hard working players he helped mold into potential champs.

"In 2001, that was our first year there (at state) and we had a group of players that didn't need any type of instruction on work habits and didn't require a lot of teaching," Miller said. " ... All I had to do was keep the ship righted.

"With this year's club, these are kids we've had since they came into the program. ... We don't have have any real superstar-type players, but we have a bunch of kids that earned this with a good work ethic and good work habits."

The 2001 team was loaded with stars, with current major-leaguer Casey Kotchman leading a group of six Warhawks to be selected in the first 15 rounds of baseball's draft that season, considered a record. They didn't lose a game, were ranked No. 1 by Baseball America and finished with a mythical national title.

The 2004 team has relied on excellent pitching from Phil Weylie, Adam Chappie and Shawn Keill, the clutch hitting of Nolan and a solid defense - not a draft pick among them, in all likelihood. It has lost games to Northeast, St. Petersburg, Palm Harbor University and Lakeland.

"The biggest difference between the teams is in 2001, we were supposed to win it," Nolan said. "Anything short of that would have been a bad season. This year I don't think anyone thought we would be here."

Except Miller, perhaps. Despite graduating almost the entire 2001 team, the Warhawks rebuilt in a hurry and have won more than 20 games and made the playoffs every season since.

"Last year was the beginning of seeing the signs of something happening," Miller said. "You could see it slowly building. During our loss to Fort Myers (in the region semifinals) you could see the disappointment and the look of higher expectations." Some of the players agreed. Miller isn't sure who did it, but someone recently slipped out to the team's 2001 championship banner hanging from the centerfield fence and superimposed the number 4, making it the 2004 champions.


In 2001, Seminole became the first team since Avon Park in 1955 to finish a season unbeaten on the field (though the Warhawks had to forfeit 10 games because of an ineligible player) and was No. 1 from start to finish in the Baseball America national poll. A record eight players have been drafted from this team, including a record-tying six that season. It is considered the greatest team in Pinellas County history, and one of the best in state history as well. Where are they now?


DRAFTED: No. 13 overall by Anaheim.

THEN: Hit .402 with 29 RBI, 41 runs; Florida Mr. Baseball, Gatorade National Player of the Year; doubled in sixth and seventh innings to help Seminole rally from 5-0 deficit to win state title.

NOW: Hitting .280 with 8 RBI in 14 games for Angels, and has struck out just once in 50 at-bats.


DRAFTED: No. 31 "sandwich pick" by Baltimore.

THEN: Transferred from Fort Lauderdale Westminster, but was declared ineligible after 10 games, all wins by the Warhawks that had to be forfeited. NOW: In 39 games with the Class A Delmarva Shorebirds, Bass is hitting .256 with 19 RBI.


DRAFTED: Round 6, 194th overall by St. Louis.

2001 NOTABLE: The lefty threw a season-high 112 pitches but got complete-game win in state final over St. Thomas Aquinas; finished 11-0.

NOW: On roster of Johnson City Redbirds of the Rookie League.


DRAFTED: Round 9, 286th by San Francisco

2001 NOTABLE: Won region final and state semifinal, finishing 12-0 with 1.23 ERA.

NOW: Attended Chipola Junior College for a season before transferring to St. Petersburg College for 2004 season, where he was conference pitcher of the year and went 10-1.


DRAFTED: Round 15, 442nd overall by Texas.

2001 NOTABLE: Projected as a possible first-round pick before the season started, Miami-signee pitched just three games before a torn labrum ended his season. NOW: Transferred to Stetson after one season at Miami; is 4-6, leads Hatters in strikeouts.


DRAFTED: Round 6, 194th overall by St. Louis.

2001 NOTABLE: Times All-Suncoast Player of the Year after batting .457 with 37 RBI; hit two grand slams in playoffs.

NOW: Was the FCCAA Player of the Year with St. Petersburg College this season, batting .468 and earned a scholarship to Louisiana State.


DRAFTED: Round 37 by Los Angeles in 2002.

2001 NOTABLE: Second baseman battled hamstring problems, but started Seminole's sixth-inning, four-run rally with a walk. NOW: Played two seasons at St. Petersburg College, and is at Central Connecticut State.


DRAFTED: Round 38 by Pittsburgh in 2002.

2001 NOTABLE: Was displaced by Bass as the starter at shortstop, but given his job back he batted .333 for the season.

NOW: Was 1-3 as a junior at the University of West Florida, with a 5.40 ERA this season.

[Last modified May 28, 2004, 01:00:27]


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