By MIKE READLING
© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 29, 2001
TAMPA -- Tampa Catholic coach Chuck Yingling is a lot of things, state champion and baseball savvy being among them.
Now you can add prophetic to the list.
Minutes after the Crusaders wrapped up the Class 3A state title last month, Yingling talked about Denard Span, his star who had just gone 2-for-4 with three RBI and made a dazzling, running catch in centerfield.
"He's a fantastic athlete," Yingling said. "I told him if he wanted to show his stuff, the state tournament is a great lead-in to your senior season."
He couldn't have been more right.
Span got enough attention during the state tournament and an ensuing tryout tournament that he was selected to play for Team USA in the Pan American Junior Championships, which begin this weekend in Camaguey, Cuba.
After the state tournament, Span played for the Dixie team in the Tournament of Champions in Joplin, Mo.
The team also featured first-round draft pick Alan Horne of Marianna, Armwood's Mike Pete and Seminole standouts John Killalea and Bobby Wilson.
The team competed against seven other teams during an eight-day period before Team USA selected 24 players from a pool of about 140.
Span, who hit .375 (3-for-8) with a triple and one RBI while stealing two bases in four attempts, was one of three players from Florida -- and the only bay area player -- chosen for the Pan American tournament.
Span hit .382 with 6 home runs and 30 RBI for the Crusaders.