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Gatorade names Warhawk nation's best


© St. Petersburg Times,
published May 31, 2001

The awards keep rolling in for Seminole's Casey Kotchman.

A few days after being named Florida Mr. Baseball, Kotchman has taken it up a notch. Gatorade named the Warhawks first baseman its national player of the year.

Kotchman, 6 feet 3, 215 pounds, helped lead Seminole to a 31-0 record on the field. (The Warhawks forfeited 10 games for using an ineligible player.) He batted .402 with 41 runs, 29 RBI, 11 doubles, 5 home runs, a .581 on-base percentage and a .743 slugging average.

In the Class 5A state final, Kotchman hit doubles in the sixth and seventh innings to help Seminole overcome a 4-0 deficit and defeat Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas 5-4. "Everybody on the team deserves a part of this," he said. "We showed we were the No. 1 team."

Kotchman excelled despite missing most of his junior season with a back injury.

"It's a well-deserved award," Seminole coach Scott Miller said. "The kid came into the season ranked as the top senior in the nation, which is pretty heady stuff and difficult to live up to. His work habits are as good or better than anyone's."

There will be a ceremony at the school at 9:30 a.m. today, and Gatorade will pick up the dinner tab tonight for Kotchman and 20 guests.

"I had to pay him $20 to invite me," Miller said jokingly. ALL-STATE: Northside Christian sophomore Lastings Milledge was named to the Class 2A first team.

An outfielder, he batted .546 with 10 doubles, 5 triples, 6 home runs, 44 runs, 41 RBI and a .938 slugging percentage in helping the Mustangs to a 25-4 record. Milledge's home run was Northside's lone run in a 2-1 region semifinal loss to state champion West Palm Beach King's Academy.

Three Mustangs were named to the second team: pitcher Todd Redmond, infielder Andy Park and outfielder Steven Doetsch. Three Shorecrest players made the third team: pitcher Ryan Heacox, catcher Zach Wendkos and infielder/pitcher Mike Giroud, who was chosen as an outfielder.

Northside's Scott Leffler and David Scott, Shorecrest's Matt Newton and Admiral Farragut's Marshall Hampton were named honorable mention.

In Class A, Marc Sawyer of Canterbury was named a second-team infielder, and teammate Warren Wood (pitcher) made the third team. Two Indian Rocks Christian players, Warren Garrison (infielder) and Kevin Wright (pitcher) also were named to the third team.

Keswick Christian's Jon Wilt, Indian Rocks Christian's Matt Sitton and Canterbury's Nick Sango were named honorable mention.

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