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Devil Rays recover, win title in softball


© St. Petersburg Times, published June 13, 2000

LAND O'LAKES -- An unbeaten regular season nearly was wasted by the Land O'Lakes Devil Rays, who quickly fell into the major softball losers bracket of the District 13 President's Cup.

The Devil Rays entered the playoffs 17-0 before dropping their opener 15-10 to Bloomingdale American. Land O'Lakes then won six consecutive games, including a pair of one-run victories, to claim the district title.

"We got into the losers bracket right away, but then we battled back," Devil Rays coach Carlos Tejas said.

Land O'Lakes avenged the loss to Bloomingdale American with a 10-9 win in the fifth playoff game. That placed Land O'Lakes in the final against Bloomingdale National, which came out of the winners bracket.

The Devil Rays earned the championship with 16-7 and 5-4 wins over Bloomingdale National.

In the final game, the Devil Rays were down to their final out, trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Stephanie Debroux, who led off the inning with a walk, scored on Kelly Davis' two-out double, and Davis raced home with the winning run on a double by Jessica Tejas.

In winning six of seven post-season games, Land O'Lakes outscored its opponents 90-48.

GIANTS TAKE THIRD: The Shady Hills Giants went 4-2 in the senior baseball division to finish third in the District 15 Top Team tournament.

The Giants opened the series with a convincing 14-4 win over Crystal River, which went on to win the district championship.

Shady Hills also won two games by forfeit, over Chiefland and Inverness, before posting its only shutout of the series, 16-0 over Anthony. Kyle Roller, Harrison Nix and Bobby Leighton combined for the shutout.

Shady Hills lost to Central Citrus before being eliminated in a 10-7 loss to Dunnellon.

"We gave up two big innings. Then we couldn't get the timely hit when we needed it," Shady Hills coach Mark Roller said.

BRAVES STREAKS: The Zephyrhills Braves won their first three senior baseball games in the District 4 Tournament of Champions before dropping two in a row for a third-place finish.

Braves starting pitchers Chris Cecil and Mark Dunn went 1-1 in the tournament with catcher Justin Whitworth picking up one win. "He's the heart and soul of this team," Braves coach James Kelske said of Whitworth, who pitched Zephyrhills to a 7-4 win over Frostproof. "He's a catcher by trade, but we got a game out of him."

Rightfielder Edgardo Rivera also was singled out by Kelske for his all-around play in the tournament.

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