The 18-and-under Clearwater team outscores its opponents 32-5 and claims its second ISA
By JOHN SCHWARB
© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 25, 2001
Countryside and Palm Harbor U. are dangerous enough teams on their own, as many county softball fans know. But Cougars and Hurricanes on the same team? That means trouble -- for the opposition.
The 18-and-under Clearwater Bombers have an ample supply of talent from the rival prep teams on the roster, and this summer the results have been impressive.
This past weekend, the Bombers cruised to a second consecutive Independent Softball Association (ISA) national title in Woodstock, Ga., outscoring opponents 32-5 while going a perfect 6-0.
"When we got there, we heard a lot of the tournament people were hoping we weren't going to show up," Bombers coach Chuck Poetter said. "The girls did extremely well."
Pitchers Crystal Crews (Countryside) and Katie Dobson (PHU) silenced hitters while the top of the Bombers' lineup set the table offensively. Kattrina Dowd (Countryside) frequently reached base from her leadoff spot and and Denyve Duncan (PHU) would move Dowd along.
"They played pretty methodical softball," Poetter said. "Once we got a lead with Crystal and Katie throwing, it was pretty well over."
Much of the summer has progressed that way for the Bombers, winners of five tournaments on the season. A trip to Denver for an American Fastpitch Association (AFA) tournament last month proved a little disappointing (though a ninth-place finish against strong competition was respectable nonetheless), but in all other games the Bombers are 32-4.
For Crews, the three-time county player of the year, it has been an especially enjoyable summer. She hasn't had to worry about impressing the numerous college scouts that attend tournaments since she landed a scholarship to Georgia Southern earlier this year. "It's nice. A lot of pressure comes off your back," she said. "You don't have to worry about messing up."
Crews has not been developing anything new on the mound, instead the club season has helped her stay in shape and play a few more games with longtime friends and rivals.
"I'm looking forward (to college), it's something new," said Crews, who leaves for Statesboro, Ga., on Aug. 18. "But I kind of wish I could put it off a little more."
Teammates Dorothy Donaldson (Lakeland High) and Duncan have already left for school (Duncan to Saint Leo), leaving the rest of the team to take on more top competition at the AFA nationals next week in Texas.
MORE ISA: The 14-and-under Clearwater Bullets, winners of three consecutive tournaments, had their streak snapped with a second-place effort at the ISA nationals.
The Bullets rattled off five wins to start the long weekend, including a 3-2 win over the Clearwater Lady Shockers, but the Central Florida Intimidators kept the Bullets at bay.
The Intimidators pushed the Bullets into the loser's bracket with a 2-1 win, then in the second championship game took advantage of some defensive miscues to go up 5-3 late. In the Bullets' final at-bat, Christy Rhodes (Clearwater) led off with a triple and scored, but the team failed to plate the tying run and lost 5-4.
Other teams that had good weekends in Georgia included the 10-and-under Bombers (second place), 12-and-under Bullets (fifth), 14-and-under Lady Shockers (tie for fifth) and the 16-and-under Bombers (tie for fifth).