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Cathy Coe anchors a winning season


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2001

NORTH LAKES -- In the semifinal district game with Bloomingdale on April 24, Cathy Coe and her softball teammates at Gaither High were determined to win and move on to the regional playoffs.

It looked impossible on paper. In two regular-season games, Bloomingdale had won big, 10-0 and 7-0.

"Coach Shaw told us not to try to get hits, but just put the ball in play," Coe said. "We put the ball into play, their infielders made errors, and we scored runs."

Although it was close, the senior Cowboys pitcher limited Bloomingdale to three hits and only a single run. Gaither upset the Bulls 2-1 and came close to upsetting Sickles in the Class 6A, District 7 final.

However, the Gryphons came from behind to defeat Gaither 3-2. The Cowboys still earned a berth in post-season play, but were eliminated last Tuesday by Venice 2-1 in an extra-innings game.

Both the district winner and runner-up continue in regional playoffs.

"Against Bloomingdale, myself and the other four seniors made a pact we would do everything possible to make sure that we played more games this season for Gaither," Coe said, referring to teammates Tara and Kelon Whelon, Brittany Groh and Tanya Solis.

"A loss and our season was over, but a win and their season was over. Everyone on our team had to play their very best to beat a team as good as Bloomingdale and they did it."

Coe has played softball since age 8, but the 18-year-old North Lakes resident also succeeds in academics. She will graduate this month as salutatorian for Gaither's class of 2001.

Coe's early softball experience included play with two travel teams, the Tampa Bay Storm and the Temple Terrace Angels. She played Little League prior to that.

She has earned impressive softball numbers in her senior season on the mound and at the plate.

In a year when the Cowboys are rebuilding, Coe has a personal record of 11-8 with an earned-run-average of 1.88 with 105 strikeouts in 111 innings. She has a batting average of .440 with four triples and two doubles.

"I feel we have the potential to continue playing in the post season," Coe said. "Our program is in a rebuilding cycle, but Gaither has a tradition of winning softball. Other teams seem to step up a level when playing us, but I like it like that. We have been improving in every game and we feel we will just keep getting better as long as we stay in the playoffs."

Coe has already been accepted as a fall student at the University of Florida. She has enough academic scholarship aid available that she won't need to play on the Gators softball team.

Softball has been an important part of her life and she hopes to get involved in some on-campus games as recreation, but mostly she says she needs to focus on her studies.

Coe plans to seek a degree in biomedical engineering. She hopes to work straight through to earn a masters degree in the field in just five years.

"We have ended our season as winners," Coe said. "I'm proud of our team and will miss them next year. The team should do even better next year."

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