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A Pirate's kingdom

By KELLIE DIXON
Published February 21, 2007


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CRYSTAL RIVER - Catcher Quincy Wilson calls pitcher Cassidy Rash a princess, but the opposition is more likely to think of the Crystal River right-hander as a royal nightmare.

Rash returns for the Pirates and should be one of the top pitchers in the area. As a sophomore, she was chosen to the all-Suncoast second team. Last season she went 12-7 with a 1.91 ERA and hit .419 with two home runs.

Wilson smiles at Rash, a junior, as she explains how her pitcher got her nickname. If the duo grabs a bite to eat, it's usually where Rash suggests. During hitting drills, Rash goes first.

"That's what I have to treat her like," Wilson said.

Rash also expects to be in control when she is standing on the pitching rubber. Her drop ball and screw ball are her strongest pitches, but the junior has changed up her approach some.

"Before I used all arm, and then they told me I needed to use my legs so I changed," Rash said. "They said I might as well change now because when I go to college I'm going to have to change."

Rash has been dedicated to improving her game, spending Monday nights at the Jaci Davis Pitching School in Pinellas County. Crystal River coach Justin Wentworth said Rash has improved with every season as a result.

"Anytime you're out til midnight on a Monday night to make yourself better, that's dedication," Wentworth said. "This year she just kind of gripped down and throws the ball.

"She's gone through a little bit of a change to where her freshmen year, she just reared back and threw it as hard as she could."

Still she recorded almost 170 strikeouts as a freshman, and since then she's been getting the opposition's attention. And if her pitching wasn't enough, Lecanto coach Robert Dupler said Rash has an aggressive bat and speed on the basepath.

"Cassidy doesn't just bring it on the defensive side of it," Dupler said. "She's one of the fastest kids in the area. She's what I would call a triple threat."

But every now and then, even Rash can get a little too serious. That's why Wilson always looks out for her.

"If she thinks too much, she'll do bad because she'll tense up and won't let her body do it," Wilson said. "She's pitched so much she knows what to do. Her muscles know what to do. You just gotta loosen her up sometimes."

That usually means a quick timeout and a wisecrack. Anything to get her princess to smile.

Rash's goal is 200 strikeouts this season, but she would be happy with "a better year than last year.

"It's Quincy's last year. It's my last year she'll be catching for me. It's a lot because we've been together for so long. I don't ever want to let her down because she's always been there for me."

Kellie Dixon can be reached at kdixon@sptimes.com or 352 544-9480.

Citrus

Coach: Butch Miller, second season, 15-11 overall.

Last year's record: 13-8

Key returnees

3B Jenn Baum, Sr. C-Util. Ashley Smith, Jr. C-Util. Kelsie Keating, Jr. P Brittany Eldridge, So. OF Brittany North, Jr. OF Candace Smith, So.

Key newcomers:

CF Sam Heaney, Jr. P-OF Stacey Weimert, So. SS Marissa Maggiore, So. 2B Kim Rodgers, Jr. base runner, LF Katie Young, Jr.

Key losses

OF Janea Thaler SS Krystal Boardman P-1B Jillian Couillard INF Ashley Hogland.

Injuries: 2B-Util. Sara Nelson messed up her ankle sliding into home earlier this season. She is doubtful for the week.

Outlook: Citrus, 2-3 overall and 2-2 in the district, relies upon speed to play small ball and has a simple goal - get better with every game.

Crystal River

Coach: Justin Wentworth, third season; 32-12 overall.

Last year's record: 15-8.

Key returnees

C Quincy Wilson, Sr. A dominating hitter with four home runs so far

SS Ashley Clark, Sr. A speedy player who will steal on you if she gets the chance

P Cassidy Rash, Jr.

RF Katelyn McNally, Sr.

Key newcomers

OF Brittany Dehoff, So. OF Becca Reynolds, Fr. OF Amber Wilson, Jr.

Key losses

Sarah Wilkens, graduated.

Injuries: None.

Outlook: Before Tuesday, the Pirates were 4-2 overall and 3-0 in the district. Wentworth is quick to point out the regular-season games are just practice. The only time that really counts is the district tournament. In the meantime, Wentworth stresses persistence. "In our program, it's come to work everyday," Wentworth said.

Lecanto

Coach: Robert Dupler, second season 11-12 overall.

Last year's record: 11-12

Key returnees

The team.

That's not a joke. Lecanto returns all but one player from its district championship squad. The senior leaders are LF and leadoff batter Maggie Mueller, 3B Sara Bargiel and RF and cleanup hitter Christina Hollbach.

Key newcomers

None

Key loss

Sam King, graduated. The former centerfielder controlled the outfield and led the team in runs scored.

Injuries: Bargiel broke her nose and could miss the rest of the week. She hopes to keep hitting.

Outlook: The Panthers are hitting better at this point than they were last season. Their only struggle is not being able to finish games. Lecanto is 1-3 overall and 0-3 in the district. The key for Lecanto will be focus, putting the ball in play and keep the errors to a minimum.

Seven Rivers Christian

Coach: Jackie Iwaniec, second season.

Last year's record: NA

Key returnees

C-1B Katie Amesbury, Sr. C Amy Green, So. CF Chelsea Ebert, Sr. 3B Carol Ann Dumas, Jr.

Key newcomers

None

Key losses

Renee Bellevance, OF, graduated P Melanie Lee, homeschooled

Outlook: Iwaniec hopes her Warriors can use speed to their advantage while they improve fundamentally this season. The small, fast team will spend time working on its bunting and slap hitting.

[Last modified February 21, 2007, 01:24:35]


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