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Bucs, Pirates hire coaches

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 29, 2000


DADE CITY -- Ray Carver made the whole process sound simple.

He heard a rumor about the Pasco softball job being open, inquired about it and after learning it indeed was available, he interviewed. Wednesday, Carver was hired.

The former Saint Leo coach was one of four candidates who applied for the job, and he will inherit a program with a rich history but a less than desireable present. The Pirates haven't had a winning season since 1997.

"I just want to make them respectable," Carver said. "They can do that pretty easy. With just some hard work, they can be respectable the first year. The only thing I can guarantee is we'll show up ... unless the bus breaks down."

In Carver, who has worked as a private tutor since he stopped coaching at Saint Leo in 1995, Pasco gets an experienced coach who went 216-197 in 10 seasons at Saint Leo. In 1994, he led Saint Leo to a 35-win season, the best in school history, and its 20 conference wins in 1995 also set a school record.

Saint Leo finished 34-10 and placed three players on the all-conference team in 1995.

"He has a wealth of experience," Pasco assistant principal Norm Brown said. "He has coaching experience at the post-secondary level. He has a lot of contacts, which of course at high school is something we really value, the contact with colleges.

"He also has a lot of contacts in the community, and when he interviewed, he had a lot of ideas on how to turn the program around."

His exit from Saint Leo was anything but amicable.

In November 1995, the school placed Carver on administrative leave. Then in February 1996, in conjunction with four current players and one former player, the 10-year coach and two-time Sunshine State Conference coach of the year filed a lawsuit against Saint Leo.

The suit claimed Saint Leo violated federal laws by failing to provide equal resources and equipment for female athletes and conspired to squash any effort by Carver to support the claim. Carver and the other plaintiffs settled out of court in May 1997 for an undisclosed sum of money.

Since then, he has been working as a private tutor for some of Tampa Bay's top players. He had inquired about other high school coaching jobs but decided they would have required him to drive too far.

"This should be fun," he said. "These kids need to learn, and we live right here close. It's going to be an adventure."

Under Jim Ward, who resigned June 3 after six seasons, the Pirates went 13-9 and 15-9 in his first two seasons.

Pasco again had a winning record in 1997 -- winning the district and finishing 15-12 -- but lost 20 or more games the next three seasons. It finished 7-20 in 1998, 5-22 in 1999 and 8-20 this season.

"We would like to see the girls have a good time," Brown said. "That's No. 1. And to be competitive, of course. We always look forward to post-season play and being successful. I think Ray will concur and give those girls every opportunity to get scholarship opportunities."

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