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By ROD GIPSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2001


TAMPA -- The Spartans baseball team is 39-6, 11-3 in the Sunshine State Conference and the top-ranked Division II team in the country.

But it might not guarantee a conference title. With two weeks left in the regular season, UT is in second place behind Florida Southern (12-3).

UT, which defeated Barry 1-0 and 7-5 before losing 5-0 in the last game of the series, still has three games left against the fifth-ranked Moccasins (May 4-5).

UT faces No. 22 Saint Leo this weekend and ends the regular season May 12-13 with two games against second-ranked North Florida.

SOFTBALL: After going 8-for-17 and driving in three runs, scoring three runs and hitting a double, a triple and a home run, UT freshman pitcher/first baseman Christy Exizian was named the SSC Hitter of the Week.

Teammate Laci Tiarks was named conference Pitcher of the Week after going 3-0 with a 0.23 ERA. The senior allowed 20 hits in 30 innings, walked five and struck out 10. Included among her games was a 17-inning performance against Florida Southern in which she allowed a run on six hits and walked two.

Entering Saturday's regular season finale, a home doubleheader against Rollins, UT is 31-14 and first in the SSC at 18-6.

COMMITMENTS: UT has signed six athletes, including a standout cross country runner.

UT signed tennis players Jennifer Brown (Cherry Hill, N.J.), Jamie Fox (Jacksonville) and Elizabeth Moulthrop (Aurora, Ill.) and swimmers Peter Ranstead (Orland Park, Ill.) and Daniel Laidlow (Port Jeff Station, N.Y.).

But UT's biggest signing might be state qualifier Elizabeth Bragg of Lakeland Jenkins High. Bragg finished seventh at last season's state cross country meet and had been heavily recruited by Florida Southern.

"This signing is a significant step for our program," UT cross country coach Jarrett Slaven said. "We went head to head with one of the nation's top programs and signed one of the best runners in the state from their back yard. This elevates the total perception of UT cross country."

MEN'S GOLF: The Spartans placed fifth among seven teams at the conference tournament last week at the Lake Jovita Country Club in Saint Leo. UT shot a three-round 928, 54 strokes behind first-place Florida Southern.

Matt Freeman led UT with a 230 to finish tied for 16th.

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