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District 4 sends three to tourney

By JAMAL THALJI and STEVE LEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000


Three Little League teams from Dade City are set to open sectional play this weekend after winning their respective districts: the major and senior baseball teams, and the major softball team.

Here's a look at each:

MAJORS BASEBALL: 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.

SENIORS BASEBALL: Dade City's senior baseball all-star team has more than one ace to draw from. In fact, coach Danny Filley has six pitchers he will not hesitate to use in any situation.

Such depth came in handy once Dade City fell into the loser's bracket of the District 4 tournament. Knowing the team was not reliant on one or two pitchers, Dade City battled back to win the district crown.

Dade City (6-1) begins play in the Section III tournament Saturday against the Tampa Yellow Jackets at East Point in Seffner.

MAJORS SOFTBALL: They knew it before the All-Star season even began.

If the Dade City major softball all-stars won the requisite three games to capture the District 4 crown, then staff ace Ashley Rogers would not be around to help the team in the opening round of the Section III tournament, which begins Saturday.

Well, sure enough, Dade City cruised to three wins to capture the District 4 championship. And yes, Rogers, one of the team's many star players, will not be there.

Instead, Rogers will be honoring a commitment she made before the season to play for her "A" competitive travel team at the the National Softball Association tournament in Ohio.

It was an opportunity Rogers could not ignore, according to assistant coach Brian Stroud.

"(The) A (league) is the cream of the crop," he said. "College scouts are there, and Little League takes second place to something like that as far as softball goes, because it's more exposure, you know?"

Still, that hasn't altered Dade City's plans entering Saturday's 10 a.m. opener in the Section III tourney at East Point near Seffner: To win it all.

The way Stroud sees it, Dade City is talented enough to do without one player -- and the team knows this. In fact, pitching will still be a strength, with Dana Glover pitching in Saturday's opener.

"She's got a lot of speed, she throws the ball hard, she's deceivingly fast," Stroud said. "She's got kind of a wind-up that just throws the batter off a little bit. I would say she throws close to 60-miles per hour. She's a little bit hurt right now, she has a pulled hamstring.

"Pitching isn't bothering her but running the bases is a little bit."

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