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Citrus Park clubs claim 3 championships

The three softball teams opened play in the state tournament on Saturday.

By STEVE LEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 30, 2000


SEFFNER -- Softball rules in the Citrus Park Little League.

The league claimed three Section III All-Star championships at East Point Little League complex last week and qualified all three ballclubs for state tournaments that began Saturday. Citrus Park's 9-10 Softball team is the only defending champion among the bunch. That squad defeated Jensen Beach last summer and opened the state series Saturday at Fisher Field in Dunedin.

Citrus Park outscored its 9-10 Softball opponents 74-16. A 4-3 loss to Plant City, which came out of the losers bracket to force an extra game, was the only blemish on Citrus Park's 4-1 sectional record.

"After beating them 28-4 (in the third game of the tourney) the girls were overconfident," Citrus Park manager Mario Mirabel said. "They came out completely flat, so it was a wakeup call for them."

Citrus Park arose for a 20-7 win over Plant City in the final.

Richelle Mirabel pitched a three-hitter and struck out eight, helping her own cause by going 3-for-4 with four RBI.

Teammate Caitlin McDonald added three hits and two RBI while Katie Schasheimer and Julie Stevenson each had two hits and two RBI. Khrystine Ely, Alyse Stapf and Mirabel scored three runs apiece.

JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT: Citrus Park overcame a 4-0 deficit Wednesday for a 7-4 win over Land O'Lakes in the Junior Softball final.

"We just know we have the ability to produce a lot of runs," Citrus Park manager Gerry D'Angelo said. "They don't get down on themselves."

Pinch-runner Lindsey Taylor raced home on Danielle Piazza's squeeze bunt to knot the score at 4 in the top of the fourth inning.

Bunt singles by Brittany Beaudion, Rachel Almengual and Leesa William led to two more runs for Citrus Park in the fifth. Winning pitcher Krystal Crooks, who was hit by a pitch to start the rally, and Beaudion scored.

Triples by April Slate and Brittany Hipps led to a pair of two-run innings for Land O'Lakes, but the Pasco County team did not score after the second inning.

Citrus Park traveled to Fort Lauderdale Saturday for the state tournament with a goal of topping last year's third-place finish in the state series.

With nine returners on the 14-player roster, D'Angelo likes her team's chances.

"I think (having players who have played in the state tourney) will be a big factor," she said. "I think we'll probably be in every game. The girls have kind of been driven to return and do better than last year."

CONQUERING SENIORS: Citrus Park's Senior Softball team was the last to clinch a sectional title, waiting out the rain Thursday night for a 4-0 win over Oviedo.

The teams split a pair of games in the earlier rounds with Citrus Park winning 6-1 and Oviedo forcing an extra game with a 15-2 win on Wednesday.

Jennifer Munoz pitched a four-hit shutout to clinch the title. Tanya Solos gave Citrus Park a lead with an RBI single in the first. Alex Jones doubled and scored on Jessica Langston's single to highlight a three-run third.

Citrus Park began play Saturday in the state tourney at Dunedin's Fisher Field.

LUTZ BASEBALL: Lutz won its first-ever district championship in the 9-10 Baseball division, but went 1-2 in the sectional. A 12-11 loss in 12 innings dropped Lutz into the loser's bracket and the team was eliminated by Apopka in a semifinal on Wednesday.

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