PINELLAS BASEBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR: The CCC pitcher has a perfect record and leads the county in strikeouts.
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published June 13, 2004
As good as Ryan Webb has been, Clearwater Central Catholic coach Todd Vaughan still couldn't help but worry the night his ace right-hander faced Palm Beach Gardens.
It was a rare game against a Class 6A school, he would face its ace, Chris Volstad, and the Marauders had been struggling.
"It was a big pressure game," Vaughan recalled. "It was kind of a telling time for the team, to see if we had any shot to make a run. It was the kind of game that in the past would worry me a little bit."
But Webb eased those worries, and showed his coach and the county just how good he was. He shut out the Gators, striking out 12 and allowing just two hits. In the seventh inning, he struck out the side.
Palm Beach Gardens went on to the region finals; CCC fell short, mainly because it had to use Webb to beat Tampa Catholic in a do-or-die district quarterfinal (and lost the semi the next day). But that couldn't detract from Webb's season on the hill, which earned him Times player of the year honors.
He was a perfect 10-0. His ERA was 0.40, so low he can remember the who-where-why of every run he surrendered. He struck out 111 to lead the county for the second straight season. Twice he struck out 17 in a game, against playoff teams St. Petersburg Catholic and Northside Christian, and he threw one no-hitter and left another after seven innings.
"I was very satisfied with what I did personally," Webb said. "From the team standpoint, which is more of what I stay on top of, it wasn't what I had hoped. More than anything, knowing that I wasn't going to playing with these guys anymore was disappointing."
Webb will, however, keep playing. He has a Division I scholarship to Wake Forest, but is leaning toward signing with the Oakland Athletics, who selected him last week in the fourth round of the major-league draft.
Like anyone who has seen him, the A's like his 90 mph fastball, a nifty little slider and his demeanor. Webb doesn't think he is going to win when he takes the mound, he knows it.
Even as a sophomore, when he was 5-0 as CCC's No. 3 pitcher behind 2002 co-players of the year Shawn Williams and Justin O'Keefe, he felt like a No. 1.
He gained that confidence during the summer before his freshman season, he says, when taking the mound during American Legion ball against a vaunted Dunedin team featuring Ryan Harvey, Brian Dopirak, Steve Doetsch and others. He doesn't remember specifically striking out the famous Falcons, but two perfect innings "convinced me I could do this."
Webb entered high school as a 6-foot-2, 157-pounder, and dedicated his time to getting bigger and stronger. He had help: Dad Hank, once a tall, strapping major-league pitcher with the New York Mets, helped refine the mental part of his game, while local pitching coach Larry Mayol pushed him to become the 6-6, 195-pound future professional ballplayer he is today.
"That's the reason I can go seven innings every time," Webb said of his workout regime.
After pitching behind Williams and O'Keefe as a sophomore, Webb took center stage last year and became one of the county's top pitchers. He was 10-3 with 120 strikeouts, won the Class 2A state semifinal (losing the final in relief) and was all-state.
"He's always been the dominant guy on his team, taller than everyone else, and we've had a lot of kids come in brash and cocky because they always had the success," Vaughan said. "That's great, I guess, but that's not what I'm looking for. Don't tell me, show me. Ryan did that."
This year, Webb even added hitting to his repertoire, batting .365 with two homers. Ironically, he hit both homers in the two games this year in which he allowed his only homers. In each game, he gave up the homer first and came back to even the score.
Vaughan said Webb reminds him of former CCC pitcher Trad Sobik. They're both tall righties that throw hard and have a mean streak to boot.
What they had most in common, though, "is that they both walked out there and said, "Give me the ball, I'm the guy.' "
This year, Webb showed he was.
2004 ALL-PINELLAS COUNTY BASEBALL TEAM
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ryan Webb, Sr., RHP, Clearwater Central Catholic
COACH OF THE YEAR: Scott Miller, Seminole
P - Phil Weylie, Sr., Seminole
COMMENT: Carried team to Class 5A final four; finished 11-2 with a 1.13 ERA and 92 strikeouts; led the Warhawks with .456 BA and 26 runs.
P - Michael Tavernier, Sr., St. Petersburg Catholic
COMMENT: Guided Barons to 3A region final; 8-3 on the mound with three saves and 106 Ks in 85 IP; batted .464 with a team-leading 10 SB and 31 Rs.
P - Matt Klimis, Sr., Tarpon Springs
COMMENT: Led resurgent Spongers to best season in years; was 9-3 with 95 Ks in 58 IP; hit three homers and was second in county in RBI.
P - Ryan Webb, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic
COMMENT: Completed every game he started except two, including a pair of 17-strikeout performances; was 25-3 the past three seasons.
INF - Bobby Uzdavines, Jr., Clearwater Central Catholic
COMMENT: Led CCC in hitting for second straight season, batting .480; showed some pop with four homers and eight doubles.
INF - Eric Turgeon, Jr., Dunedin
COMMENT: Regarded as top defensive 3B in county; came on late to bat .388 with 27 runs and 34 RBI, adding five triples and seven doubles.
INF - Shawn Keill, Jr., Seminole
COMMENT: Led the Warhawks with 29 runs and was second in RBI (22) and BA (.420); led county with five saves and won two other games.
INF - Wade Waybrant, Sr., Palm Harbor University
COMMENT: One of the Hurricane linchpins the past two seasons; led the team in doubles while batting .370, also had four saves.
C - Ricky Nolan, Sr., Seminole
COMMENT: Teams rarely ran on him; led Warhawks with 26 RBI while batting .360 with 22 runs.
OF - P.K. Keller, Sr., Northside Christian
COMMENT: Had one of the best all-around seasons in county, batting .494 with 8 HR, 34 RBI, 44 R and 40-for-40 in SBs.
OF - Bill Manion, Sr., East Lake
COMMENT: Extremely effective leadoff hitter the past two seasons; hit .430 with 28 runs, 7 doubles and 22 SBs.
OF - Karl Midgette, Jr., Tarpon Springs
COMMENT: Led Spongers with .475 BA, doubling six times and scoring 23 runs.
OF - Jeff Cheek, Sr., Dunedin
COMMENT: Hit .333 overall, but batted over .450 in the second half of the season, and was second on team with 26 runs.
UT - David Golliner, Sr., Northside Christian
COMMENT: Huge second half helped him to .451 BA with 32 RBI; also pitched 41 innings, with team-best 1.37 ERA plus two shutouts and three saves.
UT - Nolan Brannon, Jr., St. Petersburg
COMMENT: One of county's best defensive players; led team with 21 runs and 13 SBs, as well as 1.91 ERA while going 5-3 on the mound.
DH - Ken Almeida, Sr., Pinellas Park
COMMENT: Tied for county lead with eight HRs; batted .428 with 25 RBI to lead team, also had seven doubles.
P - Adam Chappie, So., Seminole
P - Aaron Tullo, So., St. Petersburg
P - Kyle McDowell, Sr., Osceola
P - Ricky Rogers, Sr., Dunedin
P - Scott Moeller, Sr., Northeast
INF - Geoff Craig, Sr., CCC
INF - Skylar Delgado, Sr., Seminole
INF - Tim Gayson, Sr., Tarpon Springs
INF - Kyle Mills, Jr., Dunedin
C - Ryan McKenzie, Jr., Dunedin
OF - Dan Boucher, Jr., East Lake
OF - Jacob Ralston, Jr., Northeast
OF - Addison Maruszak, Jr., St. Petersburg Catholic
UT - Seth Montgomery, Sr., Keswick Christian
UT - Chris Wallace, So., Northside Christian
DH - Zach Wright, Sr., Clearwater
Admiral Farragut - Charlie Key, Matt Taber; Boca Ciega - Jut Pashak, Kase Triolo; Calvary Christian - Nathan Kmet, David Penn, Josh Mueller; Canterbury - Webb Pinkston, John Giles, Mitchell Todd; Clearwater - Scott Paulk, Minervino Labrador; CCC - Chris Heil, John Petika, Brett McKean; Countryside - D.J. Coles, Matt Low; Dunedin - Alan Mason, Kevin Garcia, Ryan McKenzie, Corey Birge; East Lake - Francis Strazerri, Brett Foley, Shawn Kale, Pete Ganci; Gibbs - Casey Allen, Johnny Harris; IRC - Matt Sitton, Chris Seeley, Frankie Gross; Northeast - Jose Ramos, Austin Yee, Joey Tribou; Northside Christian - Tim Devlin, Kyle Mateer; Osceola - Mike Thompson, Ryan Thompson, G. Civello, J. Civello; PHU - Chris Wheaton, Steve Lynch, Bobby Bailor, Miguel Perez, Andrew Moltz; Pinellas Park - Justin Marlow, John Spincken; St. Petersburg - Vince Grasso, Courtland Chambers, Nolan Brannon; SPC - Mike Bronk, Tony Conza, Matt Petty, Doug Henriott, Pete Guastella, David Burns; Seminole - Kyle Scott, Nick Stanley, Kyle Albright; Shorecrest - Anthony Katchuk, John Kubicki, Ray Strotsky; Tarpon Springs - Kyle Hammond.