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Healing time now begins for Baker

For Countryside junior Desiree Baker, acupuncture has nearly become a daily routine.

By JOE SMITH
Published May 12, 2007


PLANT CITY -- For Countryside junior Desiree Baker, acupuncture has nearly become a daily routine.

The soft-spoken right-hander pitched through constant pain this season while suffering from symptoms of elbow tendonitis.

"It was excruciating, " Baker said. "Horrible. I couldn't do anything."

Except for pitching gems.

Baker won 20 games this season for the Cougars, posting nine shutouts and a stingy .993 ERA, including zero earned runs in Friday's 2-0 loss to Palmetto.

But the gutsy performance has its price. On Monday, Baker will visit with an orthopedic surgeon, her mother Deidre Drane said. Baker will continue physical therapy and acupuncture, and likely skip travel ball this summer.

It was a tough situation for Countryside coach Kaylyn Bayly. Baker was her only strong pitcher on her state contending team, "but I didn't want her in pain."

Bayly said she had several "long talks" with Baker and Drane, who said she supported her daughter's decision to put off the injury until after the season.

Baker said her reason was simple: "Winning - and my teammates."

SURPRISE SENDOFF: When players arrived at Countryside Friday morning to board the bus, they were sent off in style. GiOnna DiSalvatore's mother, Hanna, had prepared lunch for the Cougars - turkey sandwiches, salad and fruit - spreading them on a table. The Cougars also were greeted by the school band, which played several songs as players danced along.

"It was very nice of them, " junior Brittany Dattilo said. "It's too bad we couldn't bring them home a win."

OH NO, NO-NO: Spruce Creek pitcher Kelsi Dunne found the most frustrating way to lose her first game of the season. The Alabama-bound ace threw a no-hitter against Everglades in the 6A semifinal, striking out 10. But Everglades starter Lauren Schmalz, an Auburn signee, got the better of her future SEC rival by scoring the game's only run on a bases-loaded error in the fifth.

ODDS AND ENDS: Only three of Countryside's starters were seniors. ...Palm Harbor University coach Chuck Poetter served as color analyst for Brighthouse's coverage of Friday's game. ...There were two weather-related delays during Friday's four semifinals.

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com or 727 893-8129.