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Additional games may help majors

After playing a grueling schedule in the District 4 tournament, the Dade City majors are ready for the sectionals.

By JAMAL THALJI

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000


DADE CITY -- The coaching staff of the Dade City major baseball all-star team isn't concerned that their players could be fatigued when the Section III tournament begins Saturday morning.

And that's impressive, considering the team had to endure a 10-game schedule to capture the District 4 championship. That's a bit high for an all-star tournament.

It all started when Dade City dropped a 3-2 decision early in the District 4 tourney to Plant City. That loss forced the squad to play a non-stop schedule -- with only July 4 off -- before squaring off again against Plant City for the championship.

Dade City had to beat Plant City in two consecutive games, and did, winning 2-1 and 12-2 to clinch the district crown.

But with the Section III tournament upon them, coach Dale Maggard said that marathon schedule may have actually helped prepare Dade City for the rigors that are to come.

"If someone told me from the beginning, would you like to (play 10 games), I would have said no way," Maggard said. "But in retrospect, it's good for the boys. We told them "we have to play solid this week to win this thing.' And if we were in the winner's bracket, we would have had to practice anyway.

"It really helped."

They hope the payoff comes in the opening game of the Section III tourney, Saturday at 10 a.m. at East Point near Seffner.

Another factor in the team's favor, the coaching staff believes, is that the majors came through that 10-game stretch healthy -- physically and mentally.

"We've been really fortunate that way," Maggard said. "We gave them a couple of days off, and after that we've been practicing virtually every day. This group of kids, they enjoy being out there, too. They never say to us, "when are we leaving?' About four or five of them want to be hitting extra batting practice. They want to practice two days a week."

Maggard said that either Dominque Brown or Ken Statham will start on the mound for the team. Zach Maggard will again be a force at the plate, leading the team with a .606 average.

"We've told them to do exactly what we did in the district," Maggard said. "Go out there and have fun, swing the bat. That's how we did it in the districts, and we're going to do it now. (Manager) Ricky (Anderton) and I look at it like, these kids have enough pressure, we're not going to put any additional pressure on them.

"Just ask them to hustle, and that's all you can do. They know what to do."

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