Where we're going

Published March 16, 2007

Where we're going

(and you should, too)

Fast Times Invitational

Where: Wesley Chapel.

When: Tonight, field events start at 3 p.m.

Why go?: Tonight's event really gets the track season into full gear, as all the county's boys and girls teams (as well as some out-of-county competition) show up to establish for the first time who the fastest, most leapingest and throwingest athletes are.

What we'll be watching: Wesley Chapel coach Brian Colding loves the 4x400. It's the last event of the night, and we can't see any way it doesn't determine the overall champion. But we find the 100 most compelling. Zephyrhills' Sederrik Cunningham was the fastest guy around, then Land O'Lakes' Dontarrius Thomas overtook him, and Wesley Chapel's Cory Bunch seems to think he's faster than both of them. And you can't count out Gulf's Shawn Williamson and our sleeper pick, River Ridge's Darrell Grady.

Bold prediction: Land O'Lakes takes the 4x400 relay by a nose over Ridgewood, with Wesley Chapel third by a smidgen.

5A-7 Baseball

Who: Land O'Lakes at Ridgewood

When: Tonight, 7 p.m.

Why go?: The Gators and Rams have met once, and it was back and forth until Matt Smith hit a walk-off three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to win it.

What we'll be watching: Remember Johnny Vander Meer, the old Red who threw consecutive no-hitters in 1938? Yeah, we don't either, but it's true. Tonight, Smith, coming off a no-hitter against Central, is going to try and match him. It won't be easy - Ridgewood is hitting .319 as a team and averaging seven runs a contest. Smith likely will settle for being sharper than he was last time against the Rams (5.1 IP, seven hits, four walks).

Bold prediction: Smith does not get a no-hitter. Maybe that's not so bold. How about, Jay Mattos outpitches Smith early on, but after he leaves, the Gators get just enough runs to eke out a win and the No. 1 seed in 5A-7.



Who: River Ridge at Pasco

When: Tonight, 7 p.m.

Why go?: To see if Pasco has anything left after facing Zephyrhills and Land O'Lakes earlier in the week. And to see if River Ridge has regained its swagger.

What we'll be watching: Can the powerful Royal Knights lineup of Michelle McKonly, Sara Simon, Jessica Tamburri and Michelle Miller get through either Pirate pitchers Liz Garcia or Colena Lazar? And can River Ridge pitcher Nicole Denney cool off the likes of Colesa Lazar, Lucy Schneider and Brianne Farmer?

Bold prediction: Pasco will have seen and been through everything when it runs onto the diamond tonight. The Pirates have the advantage of the Boneyard, its fans and a stellar lineup with standouts all over. River Ridge is no slouch, but winning in Dade City won't be easy. We'll take the Pirates 6-5.

John C. Cotey and Izzy Gould, Times staff writers