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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
This is what it takes to upstage a group of high school students with half their bodies painted red and the other half black, carrying 10-foot poles with skulls and crossbones on them:
Wear an actual Pirate costume.
It worked for Clara Shoe and husband Steve, who showed up for Pasco's state championship Thursday decked out in full Pirate regalia and the object of lots of finger pointing.
"We're attention freaks, " said Clara, an intensive reading teacher at Pasco.
"No, one of us is, " Steve quickly corrected. "The other one just plays along."
Clara, who picked her outfit up a little here and a little there at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival and an online store where she bought her gauntlets, only told Steve on Wednesday morning he was going to the game.
Dressed like a Pirate.
He was reluctant at first, but by first pitch had warmed to the name "Steve the Pirate." When it was time to get drinks, he proudly volunteered to go.
"That's why she's the captain and I'm the powder monkey, " he said.
LIMPING HOME: For several of the Pirates, the emotional pain of defeat was heaped on top of physical pain.
Catcher Kalee Burchfield had a sore foot, shortstop Brianne Farmer had a bad shoulder, pitcher Colena Lazar had a broken thumb on her right hand and hurt her left hand during the game, and second baseman Shaba Brown was sick.
Coach Shamalene Broner refused to use any as excuses, though.
"They have been playing hurt all season; we do not use that as an excuse at all, " she said.
FRESHMAN PHENOM: Lake Wales freshman pitcher Hannah Rogers never thought a charge to the state title would be so smooth.
"I thought the games would be more close, " Rogers said. "But we knew what we needed to do, so everyone stepped up a level."
Rogers, who just turned 15, didn't allow an earned run in five state playoff games, including an 11-inning shutout of Naples, ranked No. 2 in the country.
"We haven't had very many earned runs lately, " coach Nancy Denton said. "I never imagined (we would come this far) this year, I thought maybe next year, but Hannah has just been working hard and she is moving the ball better now than at the beginning of the season."
Times correspondent Chris Wagenheim contributed to this report.