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Central girls program best of year in GCAC


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 12, 2000

On the strength of a strong spring season, Central vaulted ahead of Citrus to win the 1999-2000 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference's girls all-sports trophy. It's a strong improvement for the Bears, who finished fourth out of seven teams last year.

"It's quite a jump," athletic director Vic Cervizzi said Thursday. "This has definitely been the year of the female in sports at Central."

Central's girls track team defended its conference title last month, and the Bears also had second-place finishes in softball and tennis this spring.

"We've had a really good turnout, with a lot of high-quality, athletic girls coming out for the teams," Cervizzi said. "There's been a big increase in participation among the girls this year, and our coaching staff is a credit to the program too."

Three county athletes were honored as GCAC players of the year in their sports: Hernando's Chris Cole and Chrissy Hartley in baseball and softball, and Central's Jane McDonald in tennis.

The coach of the year award is given to the conference champion's coach, and Hernando's Ernie Chatman (softball), Central's Rick Munford (girls track) and Springstead's Fred Hudson (boys track) were so honored, while Springstead's Tracy Clark and Hernando's Tim Sims shared the honor after splitting the baseball title.

The strong showing by Central's girls coincides with a drop for Hernando, which swept both the boys and girls GCAC all-sports trophies last season. The Leopards finished third overall this year, two points behind runner-up Central, with Hernando's boys and girls each taking fourth in their respective standings.

Springstead, which moved from the Sunshine Athletic Conference into the GCAC this year, finished sixth overall, with the boys second and the girls last.

After the fall sports season, Central's girls were in second place in the overall standings, trailing Lecanto by 5.5 points. After the winter season, Central gained ground but still trailed Citrus and Lecanto. The Bears finished ahead of Citrus and Lecanto in all three spring sports.

The players of the year and all-conference teams were selected by coaches, and there were a few notable omissions. In softball, Central's Jamie Pape, who led the county with 28 RBI, was not among the 20 players selected. In baseball, Central's Phil Steele, who missed 10 games with an injury but hit a team-best .436, was not one of three Bears on the 21-player team.

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