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Lecanto has hope in district

By KEITH NIEBUHR

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 6, 2001


Lecanto's overall record is anything but spectacular, but the Panthers have done well against Class 4A, District 6 teams, and still have a shot at getting a good seed for the district tournament, which begins in three weeks.

Prior to Thursday night's game against Pasco, Lecanto was 5-16 overall, 3-3 in district play, good for third place out of five teams. Pasco (4-1) was first, followed by Central (4-3). Hernando was fourth (3-5), while Zephyrhills (1-3) was last.

Lecanto is hopeful of getting the No. 2 or No. 3 seed, which means it would need only one win at the district tournament to secure a playoff spot. If the Panthers fall into the fourth slot, they would have to beat the fifth seed, then turn around and beat the No. 1 seed to earn a spot in the finals and gain a playoff berth.

Lecanto's final district game is April 12, when it plays host to Zephyrhills, a team it lost to last month.

QUICK RECOVERY: Since losing back-back games to ranked teams -- Fernandina Beach and Gainesville P.K. Yonge -- during spring break at the Fernandina Beach Invitational, Crystal River has won three straight and is 18-3 heading into Saturday's 6:30 p.m. home game against Lecanto.

"Win or lose, they play the same way," Pirates coach Brent Hall said. "We don't put a lot of emphasis on games, win or lose. We keep going. We don't get too high after wins or too low after losses. I think we've been pretty steady all year and consistent in what we do."

Crystal River was 7-21 last season.

TOUGH LUCK: In last week's 5-4 eight-inning loss to Central, Lecanto led 4-2 before committing two seventh-inning errors. The previous night, the Panthers lost an eight-inning game to Springstead, and earlier this week they squandered a lead and lost to South Sumter.

"We very easily could have won four in a row," Lecanto coach Bill Emerson said.

SLEEPERS: Crystal River's most pleasant surprises have been sophomore second baseman Jonathan Runnels and senior pitcher Ryan Lindeman. Runnels, a transfer from Seven Rivers Christian, is hitting .500 with 24 RBI; Lindeman is 2-0 with two saves and a 0.64 ERA in 22 innings.

NOTEWORTHY: Eight of Crystal River's 11 regulars are hitting .400 or above. The Pirates have a team batting average of .459 and a team ERA of 0.78.

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