tampabay.com

Pirates prefer a challenge to coasting into districts

By BRIAN SUMERS
Published April 13, 2006


CRYSTAL RIVER - In the major leagues, they call this period the dog days of summer.

It's the time when a team doesn't have anything left to prove, and productivity sometimes drops.

But Crystal River, done with its district schedule and with a near lock on the No. 2 seed in the tournament, will not rest on its laurels.

Instead, the Pirates will play four challenging out-of-district games during the next two weeks. Their goal: to prepare for the postseason by facing top teams.

"I could have set up a schedule to have a chance to go undefeated," coach Rob Cummins said. "And it would have been a huge disappointment to get knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.

The slate is highlighted by Saturday's game against Lynn Haven Mosley, a team receiving votes in the most recent Class 5A poll. Crystal River also will play South Sumter, Hernando and Wesley Chapel before the district tournament begins April 24.

Even as he sets up his pitching rotation to ensure top starters Matt Schrantz and Todd Bayer will be rested for the first two games of the tournament, Cummins said the Pirates will play to win.

"You don't go into battle with your shield down," senior Chris Dvorscak said.

Cummins said he isn't worried his players will be worn out by the time the postseason begins. This isn't the majors, where teams play 162 games and rarely get a day off.

"They're tired of practice, I can tell you that," he said. "But they could and would play every night of the week.

Dvorscak, an infielder, agreed.

"The kids that are still on this team don't get tired of playing ball," he said.

Brian Sumers can be reached at bsumers@sptimes.com or 564-3628.