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Team prepared for absence of key player
By JAMAL THALJI
© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 2000
DADE CITY -- 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."
Heather Stroud will also be available on the mound. Rogers, Glover and Stroud each racked up a win pitching in the District 4 tourney.
But Rogers' contributions at the plate could be missed. She leads the team with six home runs and was the only Dade City hitter to get the ball over the fence. "It's hard to pick an ace, (Rogers) is a very good pitcher, but we'll miss her bat more," Stroud said. "She pitched and caught and played shortstop. We'll have to make some changes, naturally, if you take away your shortstop or pitcher anyway, someone else has to fill in.
"We'll be all right. You can't rely on just one person. There's nine players out there."
The coaching staff foresees that when Glover is on the mound, Tiffany Parker will play shortstop and Heather Stroud will catch. When Stroud is pitching, Parker will catch and Amy Pash will play shortstop.
But more important, the team doesn't need to worry about who is and isn't playing. Instead, the players need to concentrate on executing their defensive assignments.
"We want to have a good, strong defense," Stroud said. "We're trying for zero errors and the hits will come. If you can go through the tournament and not make any errors, mentally or physically, you're going to win."
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.