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PHCC seeks consistency


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 7, 2001

NEW PORT RICHEY -- Win a couple, lose a pair. That's the way the baseballs and softballs have bounced this season for Pasco-Hernando Community College teams.

The softball squad is 10-10 after a Saturday split. The Conquistadors lost 4-1 to North Florida before shutting out Santa Fe 5-0.

As for the baseball team, Saturday's 13-0 loss to South Florida snapped a two-game winning streak. PHCC (9-9) has won two games in a row three times. Its longest streak is three consecutive wins from Feb. 7-10. "It's not an easy schedule. It's designed to get us ready for (the Suncoast) conference (tournament)," said softball coach Tom Ryan, whose program has appeared in the last four state tournaments. "We haven't faced any weak teams."

The Conquistadors host Hillsborough on Thursday at 2 p.m. in the league opener.

Michele Spina pitched the shutout Saturday. She improved to 6-3 with a 1.04 earned-run average after tossing a five-hitter and striking out three.

Laura Helt dropped to 3-6 with a 2.20 ERA after Saturday's loss.

Although Helt's numbers are below Spina's, Ryan is satisfied with both pitchers, who alternate games.

"They're both throwing the ball well," the coach said. "Those are pretty solid ERAs. If we are going to do anything, our pitching and defense are going to have to come through."

Ryan said the defense has been solid from the outset, with fielders benefitting from Spina and Helt combining for 55 strikeouts and 29 walks.

"Obviously, the walks are limited," Ryan said. "(Spina and Helt are) allowing the defense to do its job."

At the plate, leadoff hitter Ana Mena (Hernando) has picked up where she left off last season. A .307 hitter as a freshman, Mena leads the team with a .333 average, 9 RBI and 7 runs scored.

"She's the spark plug," Ryan said.

Freshman Erin Derkevics (River Ridge) has made a mark on offense. Primarily a designated hitter who bats third, Derkevics leads PHCC with a .465 on-base percentage and has a .317 average.

"Erin can swing the bat, there's no denying that," Ryan said. "She's just been consistent at the plate."

ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY: PHCC's baseball team entered Monday's game against South Florida hoping to move above the .500 mark. Cory Hockinson, who is 1-0 and has allowed one unearned run in two relief appearances, was scheduled to start for PHCC.

With 2-1 records, former River Ridge teammates Joel Sayre and Chris Langlois are the only pitchers with more than one win.

Sayre, who is considering offers from Georgia State, South Carolina and Old Dominion, earned his second win Friday when the Conquistadors beat South Florida 18-7.

PHCC designated hitter Gary Williams had 2 doubles with 5 RBI and 3 runs scored against South Florida.

Mike McMillan and Jeff Winterling each added 2 RBI and 3 runs scored in that game.

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